After reading Reykjavic Nights I decided to try another of the Icelandic Arnaldur Indridason’s Inspector Erlendur mysteries.
In Jar City, Inspector Erlendur is called in when a man is found murdered in Reykjavic apartment. The killer left a strange note identifying him/herself as the dead man. The dead man, Erlendur discovers, has an inauspicious past: he had been accused of rape. The accusation, made to the police many years ago, was bungled by the local cops. The accuser had a child who died at a young age of an unusual hereditary affliction. Erlendur’s investigation has him exploring a number of possibilities, a past that haunts and a future that promises nothing good.
As I anticipated, this novel is pretty bleak and dark. What is it about the Scandinavian mystery writers? Do the long winters bring about a lack of light in their outlook? But of course, for a mystery, this bleak tone is a boon for establishing mood.
It’s quite a jump from the previous book, where Erlendur is essentially a traffic cop and now he is a full-fledged detective, but more interesting is his relationship with his children. I look forward to more of these books and getting more information about his family as we go. The mysteries themselves are interesting, but Erlendur is also a bit of a mystery that I suspect we can only uncover over the course of many books.
The mystery in Jar City is not quite as intense or mysterious as I had hoped. We are given a small spider-web of possibilities early on, but when one important clue was given to the reader I had the book and the mystery figured out. I had hoped that there might be one more disruption or piece of information that would still lead us somewhere else, but if there was, I didn’t believe it enough to give up on my suspicion.
Still, I appreciate the very methodical method Indridason lays out for the reader and the way in which we get both the story of the mystery and the personal story of Erlendur. I definitely want to read more.
Looking for a good book? Jar City is an Inspector Erlendur novel by Arnaldur Indridason and manages to combine the past with the future in the dark, cold city of Reykjavic, Iceland.
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author: Arnaldur Indridason
translator: Bernard Scudder
publisher: Minotaur Books
hardcover, 275 pages