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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Skies --Arnaldur Indridason
Indridason's latest crime novel focuses on the detective Sigurdur Oli,
his boss,Erlendur,having taken leave in his native rural Iceland.
Sigurdur is helping a friend of a friend who is being blackmailed,
when he walks in on the woman he wants to speak to,finding her beaten
unconscious with a baseball bat.Although this compromises his position
as a...
Published on 26 Jun. 2012 by Simon Clarke

versus
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Takes a while to get going, but rounds out into a satisfactory police procedural
Having read all seven, translated police procedural novels by Arnaldur Indridason featuring Erlandur and his team, I was looking forward to reading Black Skies. It was, however, a book I struggled to get into and I might have put it to one side to pick up again later except for the fact that it was the only reading material I had on a flight. The first hundred pages or...
Published on 11 July 2012 by Rob Kitchin


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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Skies --Arnaldur Indridason, 26 Jun. 2012
By 
Simon Clarke (Hackney, London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Skies (Hardcover)
Indridason's latest crime novel focuses on the detective Sigurdur Oli,
his boss,Erlendur,having taken leave in his native rural Iceland.
Sigurdur is helping a friend of a friend who is being blackmailed,
when he walks in on the woman he wants to speak to,finding her beaten
unconscious with a baseball bat.Although this compromises his position
as a detective,he continues investigating,largely on his own.This leads
to him uncovering some shady financial transactions.

Whilst this is primarily an excellent crime novel,with many a twist and
turn,it is also a social commentary on the greed and moral torpitude in
Iceland in the boom time,just prior to its collapse.Additionally,it
skillfully shows the main character,Sigurdur Oli,growing as a human
being as he re-assesses his broken marriage,his parents,and many of his
preconceived views.
A highly readable novel of considerable breadth.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected, 13 Sept. 2012
By 
Ted Feit (Long Beach, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Black Skies (Hardcover)
With Erlendur traveling and incommunicado and Elinborg away from the Reykjavik police station, only Sigurdur Oli is left of the team to conduct police business. However, first he's asked by his good friend Patrekur to do him a favor. It seems that his sister-in-law and her husband got involved in wife-swapping, and now are being threatened with exposure if they don't pay blackmail money. Sigurdur Oli is asked to have a word with the female blackmailer, retrieve the pictures and get her off the couple's back.

When Sigurdur Oli goes to the blackmailer's home, he finds the door unlocked. When he enters he discovers her body on the floor and determines that she's been killed by a blow to the head. And then he's hit with a baseball bat, and the perpetrator runs out of the house. The policeman chases but loses his quarry. Thus begins a long and complicated plot which ultimately also involves a banking scandal and another murder.

The novel is pretty much a straightforward police procedural, and an intense look at Sigurdur Oli's personal life. It is a departure from other of the author's efforts, and certainly not as intense as "Jar City" or "Hypothermia." This reader can't tell whether it is the translation or the original prose which is different from the haunting style of the author's previous works. In any event, it should be read, and is recommended.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Takes a while to get going, but rounds out into a satisfactory police procedural, 11 July 2012
This review is from: Black Skies (Hardcover)
Having read all seven, translated police procedural novels by Arnaldur Indridason featuring Erlandur and his team, I was looking forward to reading Black Skies. It was, however, a book I struggled to get into and I might have put it to one side to pick up again later except for the fact that it was the only reading material I had on a flight. The first hundred pages or so seemed ponderous and lifeless, the writing, especially the dialogue, flat. Sigurdur Oli is out of sorts and so is the tale. Indridason's writing is always a little ponderous, building up in layers, gently engulfing the reader in an atmospheric fog, but it didn't quite work in the first half of Black Skies. However, by the second half of the book the story took on more shape, purpose and pace, with the various strands being woven together to create a nice tapestry. It was almost if Indridason started off without really knowing Sigurdur or the plot and developed each as the story unfolded, slowly putting a form on each. The tale itself, with its three interconnected storylines - the murder investigation, Sigurdur's private life, and Andreas' disassembly - eventually work themselves out nicely. Moreover, given that the story is set just prior to the Icelandic financial meltdown it provides a nice insight into the national psyche concerning its new found wealth and its trappings. Overall, a book that takes a while to get going, but rounds out into a satisfactory police procedural.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Colleagues, 20 Sept. 2013
By 
prisrob "pris," (New England USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Skies (Paperback)
Our favorite Reykjavik policeman, Erlandur has gone on leave, trying to find himself. What the novel refers to, but no one really addresses is that Erlandur has gone missing, and no one knows where he is. He is a beloved colleague, strange and with many issues, but a fearless leader. In the previous novel, Elinborg rose to the fore. The second in command, with a husband and family. She is concerned that her career is taking precedence over her family. Now, we get to meet the real Sigurdur Oli, up close and personal.

Sigurdur comes with a lot of baggage. He has never been one of the favored colleagues. A tall, thin, sparse man, with fixed ideologies. He spent time in the US, and, he loves the Americans, their football, The Cowboys, (the man has no taste, here), baseball, the Red Sox (ah, a man with great taste), rock roll, and US television shows. He is separated from his wife, they had tried for years to have children, with no success, and Sigurdur is a difficult man to get along with. We meet his mother, an intelligent accountant, very unlikable woman, rigid with order being her philosophy. Like mother, like son? Sigurdur's father on the other hand, is a laid back plumber, not wanting to bother anyone.

Sigudur has gone to a college reunion where most of his classmates are wealthy and successful, and he feels the opposite. Still a detective, and not going anywhere. One friend asks for his assistance in helping a friend. This leads to blackmail from a swinger's club and then murder and an ethical probe for Sigurdur. The murder investigation widens and leads Sigurdur in many directions. He does return to his ethical background, and turns out to be one of the more interesting of men. Two other men are in and out of this novel, one is Anders the old drunk, who had a horrible childhood, and a young man, a repeat offender, there is no help for this young man, what is Iceland going to do about these young people.

And, all the while Erlandur is missing. There are a few more colleagues to meet, but I would prefer, Erlandur to return, we need to know the entire story.

Recommended. prisrob 09-20-13
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Series just gets stronger, 29 Nov. 2012
By 
Richard Latham (Burton on Trent) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Skies (Hardcover)
Yet another very readable crime mystery by the great storyteller Arnaldur Indridason.Where other authors quickly return to their familiar and popular crime detectives to lead their stories, often bringing them back from the dead, Indridason leaves Erlunder literally in the wilderness, the back and beyond of Iceland, finding himself. So we have the quality of his writing to carry the book. In the previous one set at the set time Elinborg takes the lead, while here it falls upon Sigurdur Oli carries the story.
The result is an enhancement of the series with greater depth and colour in this investigative team and it allows the reader to be presented with a slightly different book; always rich in characterisation but the crime often brutal murder takes centre stage. Sigurdur Oli has his own problems, personal relationships, missed career opportunities and a big city mentality. He can be seen as a snob "like his Mum" or is he just dreaming of Florida and a better life. The recent history of Iceland is explored indirectly in all these novels and here we are presented with the rush to borrow and the credit boom driven by banks and unsecured debt. This new shallow lifestyle is illuminated with greed as a motive and growing debt and money problems the impetus to blackmail others. Contrast that with a desire to escape one's past and years of abuse. All these stories are interwoven into the work of a solid, determined, persistent officer who perhaps lets friendship colour his judgement initially and ultimately arrives at the solution eventually hopefully without the loss of his professional integrity.
A case he perhaps should not have been working on; leads to the revealing of a separate crime that has tenuous links with a third act of revenge. All beautifully and seamlessly linked in a gentle read that never loses its way while covering a vast range of characters and incidents. Happily it is the lead detective that holds any crime thriller together and in following Sigurdur Oli investigations we are treated to an absorbing read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where is Erlendur?, 29 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Black Skies (Hardcover)
At one point, Arnaldur Indridason is at pains to establish that his original main character has only been on leave for two weeks. This is bad news for readers of the series because (in writing/publishing time) they have been waiting for close on two years for Erlendur to return. Meanwhile we are left with Sigurdur Oli, the less interesting of the two sidekicks. To state the obvious, there are very good reasons why sidekicks are not main characters. The main story is well-plotted but it is unfortunate that the promoted sidekick is rather less interesting and sympathetic than the alcoholic in the subplot. With apologies to the author, my main concern now is how long can it be before Erlendur returns. If he's not coming back, Reykjavik needs a new senior investigator. In Black Skies, Sigurdur Oli has shown that he isn't up to the job.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Partner volume to "Outrage"; does not disappoint, 15 July 2014
By 
Steve Benner "Stonegnome" (Lancaster, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Skies (Reykjavik Murder Mysteries Book 9) (Kindle Edition)
As far as English-language readers are concerned, "Black Skies" is volume eight in Arnaldur Indrišason's series of 'Reykjavik Murder Mysteries'; for anyone able to read the books in the original Icelandic, it is the tenth. This work's Icelandic title, "Svörtuloft", gives a better sense of the central storyline than does its approximated English rendering: as well as referring to a remote basaltic seacliff on the peninsula of Snęfellsnes, notorious with seafarers for the number of mariners who have perished on its rocks, Svörtuloft is also the local nickname of the imposing black-clad building which houses the headquarters of The Central Bank of Iceland (Sešlabanki Íslands) on Kalkofnsvegi in Reykjavik. (Think about that for a minute!) To my mind, knowing this fact subtly shifts the focus of one's reading by bringing an apparently subsidiary thread more centre-stage and leads to fewer jolts during the progression of the tale, as presumably was the author's original intent.

Either way, this novel continues the trend observed in the immediately preceding couple of books in the series, by including significant landmarks that are likely to be at least known if not completely familiar to many foreign readers, widening the books' appeal beyond a purely Icelandic audience. In addition, its international banking theme (the book was written in 2009 and so dates from pretty much the middle of the credit crunch and thus pre-dates but foreshadows the financial crisis that eventually resulted in Iceland's bankruptcy a couple of years later) will provide additional resonances for an international readership, further strengthening its air of topicality.

If you are new to this series, this book does not make a good starting point, not least of all because It acts very much as a companion piece to its forerunner, "Outrage", with the events in both books being contemporaneous and the stories dovetailing to some extent. In addition, it picks up an unfinished storyline from an earlier volume, "Arctic Chill", as well as setting up some matters for the following book, "Strange Shores". Whilst "Outrage" featured Elínborg as the central character, "Black Skies" provides Sigurdur Óli with his turn to shine -- although "shine" is probably not quite the right word, in his case. Long term fans of this series who have always yearned to get to know this character better and find out whether there is more to him than than we usually see will finally have their curiosity satisfied with this instalment. Readers anxious to know what Erlendur is up in the meantime will have to wait a little longer, however.

As is usual with books in this series, the action, if you can call it that, proceeds slowly and undramatically but it is far from gentle in its telling or simple in its unfolding. It still isn't as complex and convoluted as many other examples of Nordic crime noir, with Arnaldur keeping the storyline firmly grounded in his own particular brand of Icelandic realism but the story should nevertheless keep you guessing, as well as entertained pretty much throughout.

Recommended although principally only to existing fans of the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Have you done your homework?", 26 Mar. 2013
By 
doc peterson (Portland, Oregon USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Black Skies (Hardcover)
If you have not read the previous books in Arnaldur Indridason's "Reykjavik Murder" series (Jar City (Reykjavik Murder Mysteries 1), Silence Of The Grave (Reykjavik Murder Mysteries 2), Voices (Reykjavik Murder Mysteries 3), The Draining Lake: A Reykjavik Murder Mystery (Reykjavik Murder Mysteries 4)) you are in for a treat - and I recommend you begin here before picking up _Black Skies_, even though the plot is not dependent on having read the previous titles.

As with Outrage, Indridason takes readers on a different tack, the protagonist in this story is Sigurdur Oli, partner to Erlendur and Elinborg. As _Outrage_ gave readers insight into Elinborg as both investigator and woman, so too does _Black Skies_ give insight into Sigurdur Oli's character. While I miss Erlendur (and I anxiously await his return - or denoument), it was refreshing to get a clearer understanding of the "bull in the china shop" that is Sigurdur Oli. In what is the signature style of Indridason, there are several mysteries concurrent and interlocking within each other - a murderer fashioning a death mask, a pedophile, the (innocuous?) theft of a newspaper from an old woman's mailbox, and murder in a banking and investment firm (a nod, I suppose, to the investment bubble that Iceland suffered in 2006 - 2008). The ways in which these stories intersect show a master storyteller at the peak of his abilities and kept me guessing as to "whodunnit."

The insight into Sigurdur Oli's temperment, actions and outlook gave me sympathy (not empathy) into his character. The conclusion to the mysteries was simply brilliant as Indridason writes, "Sigurdur Oli knew that he had been blind and was painfully aware why: he had believed himself to be sufficiently tough, sufficiently impartial and a sufficiently good policeman to resist being influenced by regardless of who was involved. But it had turned out that he was none of these." This catharsis clinched the book for me, earning it five stars. As with the other titles by Indridason, highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Addition to a Terrific Series, 17 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Black Skies (Hardcover)
Book 8 in the Reykjavik Murder Mysteries

As in the previous installment "Outrage" we have detective Erlendur still missing in action and out of reach on an extended absence leaving all investigations in the expert hands of his trusted colleagues. In this drama, at the helm and taking center stage is Sigurdur Oli, a well-known figure that appeared numerous times in previous novels.

The story is set in 2005 when Iceland was in the middle of an economic boom and opens with Sigurdur attending a high school reunion. During the evening one of his old classmates approaches him with a problem that maybe he could discreetly help with: an influential friend is being blackmailed after he and his wife were unknowingly photographed at a swinger's party. They desperately need help and don't know who to turn to. Sigurdur agrees to look into the matter and after a preliminary investigation decides to pay the blackmailer a visit. To his surprise he finds the woman beaten to death in her apartment and wondering how he is going to explain to his superiors why he is on a murder site that doesn't pertain to an open case. Fortunately he is assigned the case and his strongest lead takes him to the banking world that is now being fuelled by greed during the economic boom. Sigurdur quickly finds himself up to his neck in a world of high finances, money laundering and market manipulation where knowing too much can sometimes get you killed.

In a spin off plot Sigurdur is saddled with another case. A middle- aged alcoholic finally cracks under the burden of childhood memories and decides to take revenge against his step father who made growing up hell on earth.

The story is written with some witty humour and keen comments and has a cast of great characters each with their own personality. It gets off to a slow beginning while it skillfully and diplomatically creates the atmosphere of the different threads building into a suspenseful and satisfying mystery. The story also has an interesting view into how the force handles greed, depravity and murder.

"Black Skies" is a great addition to a terrific series
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4.0 out of 5 stars On top form - yet again!, 22 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Black Skies (Paperback)
First let me state I bought this in a charity shop. I bought it because I have read all the other Reykjavik novels and this was next in line at a next to nothing price and I am a huge fan.

What interests me is that with this and "Outrage" Erlendur is on his holidays and so his sidekicks take centre stage. In "Black Skies" it is the turn of Sigurder Oli. I generally find the subject matter in the Erlendur novels somewhat bleaker and carry a lot more gravitas when addressing the crimes committed against the changing social backdrop of Iceland. Indridason tends to paint on a wider bleaker landscape. With Black Skies and Outrage we seem to get more of a police procedural. But none the worse for that. What starts off as a simple tale of blackmail slowly but inexorably widens out to a much bigger storyline on the "greed is good" culture which in the case of Iceland led to the complete collapse of the Icelandic economy. At the same time Sigurder Oli at heart a died in the wool neocon who in the past has only seen everything in black and white; right and wrong etc learns that with people there are only varying shades of grey.

I love the way Indridason slowly sets up the scenario and then slowly unravels it and as it unravels we see how it all fits together. But as I always say if you are new to these start with book 1. If you are already a fan you wont be disappointed.
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