14 January 2014

Well, I suppose. If I have to.

I seem to remember a robot character in Restaurant at the End of the Universe who was resigned to his status and his duty. It was constantly saying, "Well, I suppose. If I have to."

Arnualdur is an Icelandic mystery writer. I've read at least three of his books in the past five years. I remember The Draining Lake and Voices as being good.

Inspector Erlendur, the main character reminded me of Douglas Adams' robot. His approach to life was "Well, I suppose..."

At the library recently, I found a new novel by Arnaldur Indriðason, Black Skies. Inspector Erlandur is gone. His protege, Sigurður Óli steps into the main role in this book. If anything, Sigurður Óli is more phlegmatic and self-centered than his mentor. With a main character like that, the story has to carry the burden of the novel. I always knew that Sigurður Óli would act like he was saying "Well, I suppose. If I have to."

The story does carry the book. There are actually two stories. One is a case study of the banking corruption that brought economic disaster to Iceland in 2008. Two murders, seemingly unrelated at first, lead Sigurður Óli to a small group of bankers and a complex multinational plan to make piles of money.

The second story is about sexual abuse of children. It's while trying to make sense of the ramblings of an old drunk that Sigurður Óli actually seems to grow as a person. I don't know if that was intentional on Arnaldur's part or one of those things that takes over during the writing of a book.

That second story is more interesting and more awful. What is it about the Icelanders and depression? Not enough sunlight in the winter? Too much in the summer? The first story portrays the Icelandic bankers as just like the American and British bankers who saw nothing wrong with playing fast and loose with other people's money in order to make obscene profits by finding loopholes in the law.

The book was good. Not great, but worth the time.

Have you read Arnaldur's Black Skies? What did you think of it? Read anything else lately? Write and tell this little bit of the world what you think.

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