Excerpts from Arnaldur Indriðason’s Voices (2003), set mostly at a Reykjavik hotel at Christmas time. A major theme seems to be children’s voices — gloriously enchanting as a choirboy’s, silenced as an abused child’s, and echoing in the mind of a brother who survived.
“Sometimes he bought a bottle of Chartreuse at Christmas and had a glass beside him while he read about ordeals and death in the days when people travelled everywhere on foot and Christmas could be the most treacherous time of the year. Determined to visit their loved ones, people would battle with the forces of nature, go astray and perish; for those awaiting them back home, Christmas turned from a celebration of salvation to a nightmare. The bodies of some travellers were found. Others were not. They were never found.
“These were Erlendur’s Christmas carols.”
“‘But you’d sacked him and were going to chuck him out,’ Erlendur said. ‘Then someone comes along and kills him. It hasn’t exactly been going well for him recently.'”