"Could be Thai, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Chinese," Sigurður Óli reeled off.Later, Arnaldur puts these words in the mouth of a character who is not quite the anti-immigrant yahoo he seems at first:
"Shouldn't we say he's an Icelander until we find out otherwise?" Erlendur said.
"I've got nothing against immigrants ... But I'm against changing everything that's traditional and Icelandic just to pander to something called multiculturalism, when I don't even know what it means."This character expresses revulsion at crimes against immigrants and full support for government programs to help integrate newcomers into Icelandic society.
One character says: "This is all so new to us. Immigrants, racial issues."
Another muses on the problem of immigrant children who refuse to integrate: "Same problem with the Icelanders living in Denmark. Their children refused to learn Danish."
Finally, any number of crime writers might have delivered lengthy exposition on the dreary conditions under which immigrants live. Here's how Arnaldur does it: "Erlendur was astonished there was no lift in such a tall building."
No diatribe, no ringing indictment. Instead, Erlendur and his creator, in their customary manner, making a heartfelt effort to understand their country.
© Peter Rozovsky 2009