Tuesday, January 31, 2017
The second Inspector Erlendur book finds Erlendur, Sigurdur Óli, and Elínborg called to a construction site, where a boy has found a human bone. A quick inspection discovers more bones–a skeleton dating back to probably WWII.
The skeleton is to be dug up by an anthropologist, who insists on doing things properly and taking time, giving them plenty of time to search for missing persons and see if they can find out who might have lived on the lot previously.
We also see Eva Lind miscarry and end up in the hospital in a coma, and–most interestingly–we learn more of Erlendur’s past. The event that formed the core of who he is.
But underneath all that is the story of an abused woman in the 1930s and 40s. It’s horrifying to see how women were treated then–and in some places still are treated.
She had seen the vicar who told her that a good wife does not leave her husband. Marriage was sacred in the eyes of God and people had to put up with much in order to keep it together.
“Think about your children,” the vicar said.
“I am thinking about the children,” she replied, and the vicar gave a kindly smile.
That line is rather haunting when we return to the modern timeline and learn just what happened to those children.
“This green line here,” the geologist said and pointed to a stratum in the lowest part of the wall. “This is ice-age clay. These lines at regular intervals here,” he continued, pointing further up, “these are volcanic tuff. The uppermost one is from the end of the fifteenth century. It’s the thickest layer of tuff in the Reykjavík area since the country was settled.
In addition to learning about Erlendur’s past, we also catch glimpses of just why he is a good cop.
“Did you find anything down there?” she asked, and Sigurdur Óli knew that behind this helpful-sounding remark she was in fact actually trying to wheedle information out of him. It didn’t occur to him that she might be lonely, which was the impression Erlendur had just minutes after entering her gloomy house.
It is hard to read the bits of the past, of the woman who was regularly beaten by her husband, and whose children were threatened by their father. But it is a good mystery, and one of my favorites in this series.
Published by Minotaur Books