Black Skies

Arnaldur Indridason's Black Skies starts with a small favor: Icelandic police inspector Sigurdur Óli's friend asks him to dissuade a blackmailing husband-and-wife team from releasing explicit sexual photos of his sister-in-law. When Óli arrives at the blackmailers' house, he finds the woman beaten unconscious and chases her attacker before losing the man.

Meanwhile, a vagrant named Andrés, whom Óli met on an earlier case, sends him a disturbing, mysterious package, and follows up with incoherent phone calls, as if wanting to confess something. Can Óli find Andrés and stop him from doing something horrific, catch the blackmailer's assailant and repair his shaky relationship with the woman he loves?

Sigurdur Óli has been a secondary character in Indridason's Inspector Erlendur series (starting with Jar City), but Black Skies puts him in the lead position. Óli is a dogged investigator, blunt and unyielding when it comes to despicable people, but not without compassion toward those who warrant sympathy.

Readers can jump into Black Skies without having read any books by Indridason, however; the fine writing here will probably motivate them to circle back to the Erlendur stories. Indridason's lean prose keeps the action moving forward, but manages to include social commentary on greed and reflections on how we're often betrayed by those closest to us--and how some forms of justice may not be just at all. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, crime-fiction editor, The Edit Ninja

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