Röddin, by Arnaldur Indriðason, was published in Iceland in 2003. It was published in the USA in 2006, translated by Bernard Scudder, and named Voices.
Voices is the fifth book in the Inspector Erlendor series – a series I had been unaware of until an internet search lead me to it.
At the height of the Christmas season, Inspector Erlendor and his team, Elínborg and Sigurdur Óli, are called to a large Reykjavík hotel to investigate a murder. The doorman, a man named Gudlaugur, had been found in his basement room, fatally stabbed in the heart. Apparently, he’d been in middle of some sex act when he was murdered. Gudlaugur had been the doorman for about twenty years, longer than any of present hotel employees, yet no one knows anything about him. He was also an unofficial caretaker, fixing things when needed. He was also the hotel Santa every year. Gudlaugur had been wearing his Santa suit when he was murdered.
Oddly, no one seems concerned about the death of Gudlaugur.
Erlendor checks into a room at the hotel – a room the hotel couldn’t rent out because of a broken radiator – partly to be close to the investigation, but mostly because it’s the Christmas season and Erlendor doesn’t want to be alone in his apartment. He has very little contact with either his ex-wife or his son. He has a close, but difficult, relationship with his daughter, Eva Lind, who had recently miscarried, and nearly died, from a drug overdose.
Meanwhile, Inspector Erlendor may be entering into his first romantic relationship in a very long time.
No one knows much about who the doorman, and hotel Santa, was, but at least one hotel guest remembers who Gudlaugur Egilsson used to be.
Inspector Erlendor Sveinsson is a fascinating character. He’s a loner, and a borderline curmudgeon. ( He strongly dislikes tourists.) He may be on the verge of a burnout, but his job still motivates him. His mind is always drifting. Voices is told from Erlendor’s point of view. The many sub-plots in the story are told in the form of Erlendor’s wandering thoughts, or from stories told to Erlendor by witnesses and suspects. I like this technique.
I loved this novel. It involved some believable policework – the crime was solved through forensics, interrogations, and hunches. The characters were all grounded and flawed. The sub-plots tied in nicely, in a realistic way, into a central theme.
Now that I’ve finished Voices, I’m ready for another Inspector Erlendor mystery.
- A book set in a hotel