elma and the life in a small coastal town in iceland

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‘Er, hello.‘ Elma cleared her throat, remembering as she did so that she hadn’t brushed her teeth: she could still taste the banana she’d eaten on her walk. ‘My name’s Elma. I’ve got an appointment with Hörður.’
‘Oh, yes, I know who you are,’ the woman said, standing up and holding out her hand. ‘I’m Guðlaug, but please call me Gulla. Come on in. I’d advise you to keep your coat on. It’s freezing in reception. I’ve been on at them for weeks to repair that radiator, but apparently it’s not a priority for a cash-strapped police force.’ She sounded fed up about this, but then went straight on in a brighter voice: ‘How are you parents, by the way? They must be so pleased to have you home again, but then that’s how it is with Akranes: you just can’t beat it, and most people come back once they realize the grass isn’t greener down south in Reykjavík.’ She produced all this in a rush, barely pausing for breath. Elma waited patiently for her to finish.
‘They’re fine,’ she said as soon as she could get a word in, all the while racking her brains to remember if Gulla was someone she ought to know. Ever since she’d moved back to Akranes five weeks earlier, people she didn’t recognize had been stopping her in the street for a chat. Usually it was enough to nod and smile.
‘Sorry,’ Gulla added. ‘I tend to let my tongue run away with me. You’ll get used to it. You won’t remember me, but I used to live in the same terrace as you when you were a little thing, only six years old. I still remember how sweet you looked weighed down by that great big backpack on your first day at school.’ She laughed at the memory.

from: The Creak on the Stairs

In a Small Friendly Town in Iceland

Elma is fighting. She is convinced of law and order and tries to put any evildoer behind bars. The detailed investigation by the end of any case landing on her desk is obligatory for her. She doesn’t stop when crossing powerful people or friends from the past. Let’s call it her professional daily assignment.

At the same time she struggles vehemently with her private life. Her partner has killed himself after some years living with Elma. Elma is shocked, escapes from her previous life by asking for a transfer back into her home town. She never admits anything troubling her because of this personal tragedy – she pretends to be tough. Little by little it wears her down, but finally she meets help leading slowly to a new partnership long-term.

Akranes, her home town, is cosy and strange at the same time. At the beginning it is shadowy who knows about the suicide of Elma’s partner … nobody talks about it. Even her family is considerate and remains silent. Nevertheless it’s a small town and all small towns like gossiping.

It’s one of these small towns where anybody seems to know anybody – at least within the limits of a quarter. People know each other from sharing pre-schools and secondary schools. Once grown up they move into neighbouring quarters and take along all the memories to be shared in their new neighborhoods. So there seem to be no real secrets in a small town.

However … that’s only wishful thinking. Even in a small cosy town appearing friendly and peaceful there are crimes. Crimes happened in the past. Families clashed with other families in the past. Certain incidents, although mainly rather privates touching only a small circle of people, are not forgotten. Families have long memories. Families always try to protect their nearest and dearest – over years and decades. Crimes may be investigated and somebody disappeared for years behind bars, but nevertheless … sometimes new evidence appress after years or even decades.

Mid of all this Elma has her touch-down. On her professional side there is a corpse – it’s alway a corpse that starts an investigation which tends to grow and grow … from today’s events almost always into the past. On her private side Elma is confronted with the daily life, memories – her own memories and memories of her family, of friends … anyone involved today and in the past. Elma is always confronted with quite a lot of people turning up to contribute to the investigation or just vanish, forget any crucial facts … or just are connected to the case in a certain way, however, only complicating the case.

Elma and her colleagues are busy to look for anything that might help them solve the murder. The team is rather small because Akranes is a small town – and any serious crime is not on the menu. However, they succeed finally.

While getting involved in the mess of murder and family as well as business ties Elma’s life is overshadowed by the recent death of her partner. It takes her a long time to speak about him with her family and his family … always feeling guilty … of having not foreseen the personal disaster. Only time will heal this – and it may be the reason when Elma plunges headfirst into any case working without ceasing.

The cases … what happened …
There are children, innocent children playing … when suddenly one of them dies – no natural causes. Decades later all bursts into life again … There is a rape – was there really a rape? There are accusations, people take sides, a presumed evildoer is hunted … however, was there really a rape decades ago? And there are always these collateral damages due to excessive alcohol consumption, to extramarital relations, illegitimate children, abuse of any kind … There is never a case which is simple and straightforward.

Elma always embarks on solving the mystery and entailing the web of information and misinformation. When reading the novels you always next to her and her team – professionally as well as regarding their personal life. This mix makes reading about Elma and her cases so intriguing.

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a faint cold fear thrills through my veins ... william shakespeare