Saturday, November 20, 2010

Casting Erlendur

Finished Arnaldur Indriđason’s Voices. The book is really three mysteries, all revolving around children. The main story is about a doorman murdered at a popular Reykjavik hotel during Christmastime. Doubling as Santa for the hotel’s holiday parties, the doorman is found dead dressed in his red suit and in an, uh, awkward pose. The setting provides many suspects, including several hotel workers and a British guest. Little is known about the victim, although he’s worked at the hotel for 20 years, making the task of narrowing down the suspects difficult for the lead detective, Inspector Erlendur, and his crew. The case starts to open up when the police discover something about the doorman’s childhood. (It’s revealed early on, but I don’t want to spoil it for potential readers.)


A second mystery involves an ongoing case of suspected child abuse being conducted by another detective, Elìnborg. By the end of the book, the main mystery is solved and the second one is figured out if not entirely resolved, while the third is unsolvable. It involves Erlendur’s childhood and is not a mystery in a whodunit sense, but what happened will never be fully known.


That mystery haunts Erlendur, who lives in a sort of limbo. He literally moves into the hotel during the investigation, as much to be on top of the investigation as to escape his personal life. He’s followed there by another child, his grown daughter, with whom he has a tentative and tense relationship after ignoring her and her brother for many years. His inattentiveness to his children is another sort of mystery, at least to Erlendur and especially to his daughter.


All the storylines are about the complex relationship between children and their parents, the responsibility parents feel, or don’t feel, for their children and the often overwhelming responsibility children feel for their parents.


It’s a wonderful book.


Voices is the third Erlendur book. I bought the first in the Erlendur series, Jar City. It was made into a movie by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur. It’s available on DVD. I’m curious to see the actor playing Erlendur. I tried to imagine who I’d cast as Erlendur as I read Voices. He’s an odd character, compassionate but judgmental, an anti-authoritarian authoritarian. And he’s funny in a deadpan sort of way. He doesn’t like meaningless chit chat, but he never seems to censor himself.  I was thinking possibly Jeff Bridges, although I think there is another actor who would perfectly capture Erlendur and the name just hasn’t crossed my mind.


If you’ve read Indriđason, any suggestions for who could play Erlendur?

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