Jar City (Inspector Erlendur Series #1)

Jar City (Inspector Erlendur Series #1)

by Arnaldur Indridason

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From Gold Dagger Award--winning author Arnaldur Indridason comes a Reykjavík thriller introducing Inspector Erlendur

When a lonely old man is found dead in his Reykjavík flat, the only clues are a cryptic note left by the killer and a photograph of a young girl's grave. Inspector Erlendur discovers that many years ago the victim was accused, but not convicted, of an unsolved crime, a rape. Did the old man's past come back to haunt him? As Erlendur reopens this very cold case, he follows a trail of unusual forensic evidence, uncovering secrets that are much larger than the murder of one old man.

An international sensation, the Inspector Erlendur series has sold more than two million copies worldwide.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429994989
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/19/2006
Series: Inspector Erlendur Series , #1
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 27,769
File size: 864 KB

About the Author

Arnaldur Indridason was born in 1961. He worked at an Icelandic newspaper, first as a journalist and then for many years as a reviewer. He won the Nordic Crime Novel Award for Jar City and won again for its sequel, Silence of the Grave, which also won the prestigious Gold Dagger Award. He lives in Reykjavík, Iceland.

ARNALDUR INDRIÐASON won the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Silence of the Grave and is the only author to win the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel two years in a row, for Jar City and Silence of the Grave. Strange Shores was nominated for the 2014 CWA Gold Dagger Award.

Read an Excerpt

Jar City

A Reykjavík Thriller

By Arnaldur Indriason, Bernard Scudder


Copyright © 2004 Arnaldur Indriason
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-9498-9


The words were written in pencil on a piece of paper placed on top of the body. Three words, incomprehensible to Erlendur.

It was the body of a man of about 70. He was lying on the floor on his right side, against the sofa in a small sitting room, wearing a blue shirt and fawn corduroy trousers. He wore slippers on his feet. His hair was starting to thin, almost completely grey. It was stained with blood from a large wound on his head. On the floor not far from the body was a big glass ashtray with sharp corners. It too was covered in blood. The coffee table had been overturned.

This was a basement flat in a two-storey house in Nordurmýri. It stood in a small garden enclosed on three sides by a stone wall. The trees had shed their leaves, which carpeted the garden and covered the ground, and the knotty branches stretched up towards the darkness of the sky. Along a gravel drive which led to the garage, Reykjavík CID were arriving at the scene. The District Medical Officer was expected, he would sign the death certificate. The body had been reported found about 15 minutes earlier. Erlendur, Detective Inspector with the Reykjavík police, was one of the first on the scene. He expected his colleague Sigurdur Óli any minute.

The October dusk spread over the city and the rain slapped around in the autumn wind. Someone had switched on a lamp which stood on a table in the sitting room and cast a gloomy light on the surroundings. In other respects nothing on the scene had been touched. The forensics team were setting up powerful fluorescent lights on a tripod to illuminate the flat. Erlendur noticed a bookcase and a worn suite of furniture, the overturned coffee table, an old desk in one corner, a carpet on the floor, blood on the carpet. The sitting room opened into the kitchen and another door led from it to the den and on to a small corridor where there were two rooms and a toilet.

The police had been notified by the upstairs neighbour. He had come home that afternoon after collecting his two boys from school and it struck him as strange to see the basement door wide open. He could see inside his neighbour's flat and called out to discover whether he was in. There was no answer. He peered inside the flat and called his name again, but there was no response. They'd been living on the upper floor for several years but did not know the old man in the basement well. The elder son, 9 years old, was not as cautious as his father and quick as a flash he was in the neighbour's sitting room. A moment later the child came back and said there was a dead man in the flat, and he really didn't seem too perturbed by it.

"You watch too many movies," the boy's father said and cautiously made his way into the flat where he saw his neighbour lying dead on the sitting-room floor.

Erlendur knew the dead man's name. It was on the doorbell. But to avoid the risk of making an idiot of himself he put on some thin rubber gloves and fished the man's wallet out of a jacket hanging on a peg by the front doorway and found a payment card with a photograph on it. The man's name was Holberg, 69 years old. Dead in his home. Presumed murdered.

Erlendur walked around the flat and pondered the simplest questions. That was his job: investigating the obvious. Forensics handled the mysterious. He could see no signs of a break-in, neither on the windows nor the doors. On first impression the man seemed to have let his assailant into the flat himself. The upstairs neighbours had left footprints all over the front hallway and sitting-room carpet when they came in out of the rain and the attacker must have done the same. Unless he took off his shoes by the front door. It looked to Erlendur as if he had been in too much of a rush to have had the chance to take off his shoes.

The forensic team had brought along a vacuum cleaner to collect the tiniest particles and granules from which to produce clues. They searched for fingerprints and mud that did not belong in the house. They looked for something extraneous. Something that had left destruction in its wake.

For all Erlendur could see, the man had shown his visitor no particular hospitality. He hadn't made coffee. The percolator in the kitchen had apparently not been used in the past few hours. There were no signs of tea having been drunk, no cups taken out of the cupboards. Glasses stood untouched where they belonged. The murdered man had been the orderly type. Everything neat and tidy. Perhaps he did not know his assailant well. Perhaps the visitor had attacked him without any preamble, the moment the door opened. Without taking off his shoes.

Can you murder someone in your socks?

Erlendur looked all around and told himself that he really must organise his thoughts better.

In any case, the visitor had been in a hurry. He hadn't bothered to close the door behind him. The attack itself showed signs of haste, as if it had come out of the blue and without warning. There were no signs of a scuffle in the flat. The man had apparently fallen straight to the floor, struck the coffee table and overturned it. On first impression everything else seemed untouched. Erlendur could see no sign that the flat had been robbed. All the cupboards were firmly closed, the drawers too, a fairly new computer and an old stereo where they belonged, the man's jacket on a peg by the front doorway still contained his wallet, in it one 2000-crown note and two payment cards, one debit and the other credit.

It was as if the attacker had grabbed the first thing at hand and hit the man on the head. The ashtray was made of thick, green glass and weighed at least a kilo and a half, Erlendur thought. A murder weapon there for the taking. The assailant would hardly have brought it with him and left it behind on the sitting-room floor, covered in blood.

These were the obvious clues: The man had opened the door and invited his visitor in or at least walked with him into the sitting room. Probably he knew his visitor, but not necessarily. He was attacked with an ashtray, one hard blow and the assailant quickly made his getaway, leaving the front door open. As simple as that.

Apart from the message.

It was written on a sheet of ruled A4 paper that looked as if it had been torn from a spiral-bound exercise book and was the only clue that a premeditated murder had been committed here; it suggested that the visitor had entered the house with the express purpose of killing. The visitor hadn't been seized suddenly by a mad urge to murder as he stood there on the sitting-room floor. He had entered the flat with the intention of committing a murder. He had written a message. Three words Erlendur could make neither head nor tail of. Had he written the message before going to the house? Another obvious question that needed answering. Erlendur went over to the desk in the corner of the sitting room. It was a sprawl of documents, bills, envelopes and papers. On top of them all lay a spiral-bound exercise book, the corner ripped from one page. He looked for a pencil that could have been used to write the message but couldn't see one. Looking around the desk, he found one underneath. He did not touch anything. Looked and thought.

"Isn't this your typical Icelandic murder?" asked Detective Sigurdur Óli who had entered the basement without Erlendur noticing him and was now standing beside the body.

"What?" said Erlendur, engrossed in his thoughts.

"Squalid, pointless and committed without any attempt to hide it, change the clues or conceal the evidence."

"Yes," said Erlendur. "A pathetic Icelandic murder."

"Unless he fell onto the table and hit his head on the ashtray," Sigurdur Óli said. Their colleague Elínborg was with him. Erlendur had tried to limit the movements of the police, forensics team and paramedics while he strode around the house, his head bowed beneath his hat.

"And wrote an incomprehensible message as he fell?" Erlendur said.

"He could have been holding it in his hands."

"Can you make anything of the message?"

"Maybe it's God," Sigurdur Óli said. "Maybe the murderer, I don't know. The emphasis on the last word is intriguing. Capital letters for HIM."

"It doesn't look hurriedly written to me. The last word's in block capitals but the first two are cursive. The visitor wasn't hurried when he was writing this. But he didn't close the door behind him. What does that mean? Attacks the man and runs out, but writes a cryptic note on a piece of paper and takes pains to emphasise the final word."

"It must refer to him," Sigurdur Óli said. "The body, I mean. It can't refer to anyone else."

"I don't know," Erlendur said. "What's the point in leaving that sort of message behind and putting it on top of the body? What's he trying to say by doing that? Is he telling us something? Is the murderer talking to himself? Is he talking to the victim?"

"A bloody nutter," Elínborg said, reaching down to pick up the message. Erlendur stopped her.

"There may have been more than one of them," Sigurdur Óli said. "Attackers, I mean."

"Remember your gloves, Elínborg," Erlendur said, as if talking to a child. "Don't ruin the evidence."

"The message was written out on the desk over there," he added, pointing at the corner. "The paper was torn out of an exercise book owned by the victim."

"There may have been more than one of them," Sigurdur Óli repeated. He thought he had hit on an interesting point.

"Yes, yes," Erlendur said. "Maybe."

"A bit cold-hearted," Sigurdur Óli said. "First you kill an old man and then you sit down to write a note. Doesn't that take nerves of steel? Isn't it a total bastard who does that sort of thing?"

"Or a fearless one," Elínborg said.

"Or one with a Messiah complex," Erlendur said.

He stooped to pick up the message and studied it in silence.

One huge Messiah complex, he thought to himself.


Erlendur got back to the block of flats where he lived at around 10 p.m. and put a ready meal in the microwave to heat through. He stood and watched the meal revolving behind the glass. Better than television, he thought. Outside, the autumn winds howled, nothing but rain and darkness.

He thought about people who left messages and vanished. In such a situation, what would he possibly write? Who would he leave a message for? His daughter, Eva Lind, entered his mind. She had a drug addiction and would probably want to know if he had any money. She had become increasingly pushy in that respect. His son, Sindri Snaer, had recently completed a third period in rehab. The message to him would be simple: No more Hiroshima.

Erlendur smiled to himself as the microwave made three beeps. Not that he had ever thought of vanishing at all.

Erlendur and Sigurdur Óli had talked to the neighbour who found the body. His wife was home by then and talked about taking the boys away from the house and to her mother's. The neighbour, whose name was Ólafur, had said that he and all his family, his wife and two sons, went to school and work every day at 8 a.m. and no-one came home until, at the earliest, 4 p.m. It was his job to fetch the boys from school. They hadn't noticed anything unusual when they had left home that morning. The door to the man's flat had been closed. They'd slept soundly the previous night. Heard nothing. They didn't have much to do with their neighbour. To all intents and purposes he was a stranger, even though they had lived on the floor above him for several years.

The pathologist had yet to ascertain a precise time of death, but Erlendur imagined the murder had been committed around noon. In the busiest time of day as it was called. How could anyone even have the time for that these days? he thought to himself. A statement had been issued to the media that a man named Holberg aged about 70 had been found dead in his flat in Nordurmýri, probably murdered. Anyone who had noticed suspicious movements over the previous 24 hours in the area where Holberg lived was requested to contact the Reykjavík police.

Erlendur was roughly 50, divorced many years earlier, a father of two. He never let anyone sense that he couldn't stand his children's names. His ex-wife, with whom he had hardly spoken for more than two decades, thought they sounded sweet at the time. The divorce was a messy one and Erlendur had more or less lost touch with his children when they were young. They sought him out when they were older and he welcomed them, but regretted how they had turned out. He was particularly grieved by Eva Lind's fate. Sindri Snaer had fared better. But only just.

He took his meal out of the microwave and sat at the kitchen table. It was a one-bedroom flat filled with books wherever there was any room to arrange them. Old family photographs hung on the walls showing his relatives in the East Fjords, where he was born. He had no photographs of himself or of his children. A battered old Nordmende television stood against one wall with an even more battered armchair in front of it. Erlendur kept the flat reasonably tidy with a minimum of cleaning.

He didn't know exactly what it was that he ate. The ornate packaging promised something about oriental delights but the meal itself, concealed within some kind of pastry roll, tasted like hair oil. Erlendur pushed it away. He wondered whether he still had the rye bread he'd bought several days before. And the lamb pâté. Then the doorbell rang. Eva Lind had decided to drop in.

"How's it hanging?" she asked as she darted in through the door and flopped onto the sofa in the sitting room. The way she talked irritated him.

"Aiyee," Erlendur said, and closed the door. "Don't talk that nonsense to me."

"I thought you wanted me to choose my words carefully," said Eva Lind, who had repeatedly been lectured about language by her father.

"Say something sensible then."

It was difficult to tell which personality she was sporting this evening. Eva Lind was the best actress he'd ever known, although this didn't say much as he never went to the theatre or cinema and mostly watched educational programmes on television. Eva Lind's play was generally a family drama in one to three acts and dealt with the best way to get money out of her father. This didn't happen very often because Eva Lind had her own ways of getting hold of money, which Erlendur preferred to know as little about as possible. But occasionally, when she didn't have "a goddamn cent", as she put it, she would turn to him.

Sometimes she was his little girl, snuggling up to him and purring like a cat. Sometimes she was on the brink of despair, stomping around the flat completely out of her mind, laying into him with accusations that he was a bad father for leaving her and Sindri Snaer when they were so young. She could also be coarse, and malicious and evil. But sometimes he thought she was her true self, almost normal, if indeed there is such a thing, and Erlendur felt he could talk to her like a human being.

She wore tattered jeans and a black leather bomber jacket. Her hair was short and jet black, she had two silver rings in her right eyebrow and a silver cross hanging from one ear. She'd had beautiful white teeth once but they were starting to show the signs: when she gave a wide smile it transpired that two upper ones were missing. She was very thin, and her face was drawn, with dark rings under the eyes. Erlendur sometimes felt he could see his own mother's likeness in her. He cursed Eva Lind's fate and blamed his own neglect for the way she had turned out.

"I talked to Mum today. Or rather, she talked to me and asked if I would talk to you. Great having divorced parents."

"Does your mother want something from me?" Erlendur asked in surprise. After 20 years she still hated him. He'd caught just one glimpse of her in all that time and there had been no mistaking the loathing on her face. She'd spoken to him once about Sindri Snaer, but that was a conversation he preferred to forget.

"She's such a snobby bitch."

"Don't talk about your mother like that."

"It's about some filthy rich friends of hers from Gardabaer. Married their daughter off at the weekend and she just did a runner from the wedding. Really embarrassing. That was on Saturday and she hasn't been in touch since. Mum was at the wedding and she's knocked out by the scandal of it. I'm supposed to ask if you'll talk to the parents. They don't want to put an announcement in the papers, bloody snobs, but they know you're in the CID and reckon they can do it all really hush-hush. I'm the one who's supposed to ask you to talk to that crowd. Not Mum. You get it? Never!"


Excerpted from Jar City by Arnaldur Indriason, Bernard Scudder. Copyright © 2004 Arnaldur Indriason. Excerpted by permission of Picador.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

1. At the beginning of the book (pages 4–5), Erlendur says that being a detective means investigating the obvious whereas forensics handles the mysterious. Why do you think he might have said this? What makes forensic evidence more mysterious? If this is so, why do mysteries usually concentrate on the detective rather than the crime scene investigator?

2. Erlendur has a history of family difficulties, particularly with his daughter Eva Lind. Do you think that his past helps him as a detective or is it a distraction? What do you think motivates Erlendur, what drives him?

3. How would this story have been different if it were set in America instead of Iceland? Would the characters be different? Would the crime have been different? Would the investigation methods have been different? What about this case is peculiar to Iceland? What's different about an Icelandic murder?

4. On page 124, Erlendur's mentor Marion Briem told him about Holberg: "Don't let him kill any part of you that you don't want rid of anyway." What do you think he meant? Why was it Holberg that Marion warned Erlendur about and not just the case in general? How could Holberg have that kind of power over him?

5. Given all that is revealed about Holberg throughout the story, everything we know about his past, was Holberg's murder justified? Was justice served? Would Holberg simply have gotten away with his crimes otherwise? Was there any good in Holberg?

6. If you were in Erlendur's place, would you have made some of the same gambles in pursuing the case? Would you have sent Elínborg and Sigurdur Óli to comb through the residents of Húsavík to look for women who might have been raped by Holberg? Would you have had the floor of Holberg's apartment excavated?

7. What is the relationship in Erlendur's mind between his daughter Eva Lind and Audur, Holberg's daughter who died when she was four?

8. What kind of a detective is Erlendur? What sort of a character is he? How does he resemble the people around him? Is he more like the criminals or more like the victims? Could you imagine Erlendur ever doing some other job besides being a detective? If Erlendur had committed the murder, how might he have done things differently?

9. In another episode of the book, Erlendur comes across a case of the woman who had run away from her wedding. What is the parallel between this situation and the case of Holberg's murder?

10. Was Katrín right to keep the origins of Einar secret? Should she have told her husband? How do you think she managed to raise her son without treating him differently? Would there have been a way to tell him that could have avoided all of this?

11. On page 256, Erlendur compares the genetic family tree compiled by the Genetic Research Centre to the message tree that he saw at the wedding. Why does he make this comparison?

12. On page 258, Erlendur compares the database of the genealogical histories of people in Iceland with the secret collection of organ samples that he found earlier. He calls them both "jar cities." Why does he think they are both jar cities? Why is this the title of the book? Is it ethical to have either of these collections when nobody knows about them and nobody has access to them?

13. There's a lot of talk in the story about how things used to be during the time of the rape, particularly with the stealing of organ samples from hospitals and the treatment that Kolbrún received when she reported the rape. What is the parallel between these two things? What does it say about what things were like in Iceland at the time? How had things changed by the time Erlendur was investigating Holberg's death?

14. Ultimately, Einar murdered Holberg and then committed suicide because he couldn't stand the thought that he was like Holberg, or, rather, that he felt he actually was Holberg. In what ways does Einar seem like Holberg? In what ways does he seem more like his mother? Is he justified at all in his fear? Or has he simply been too devastated by recent events to think clearly?

15. How might Einar have gotten away with the murder? Did he want to? Or did he want to get caught? If you had been in his place would you have reacted the way he did? Or would you have tried not to think about it?

16. Why does Eva Lind want to name her child Audur? What parallel is there between her unborn child and Audur? Why does she feel a connection between the two?

17. In the end, the case is solved, Erlendur finds out that his chest pains are not some mortal illness, and he seems to patch things up with his daughter. How might have solving this case and entering into the sordid world of Holberg's crimes helped him?

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Jar City (Reykjavik Thriller Series #1) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 71 reviews.
Denverguy More than 1 year ago
This is the 3rd of Arnaldur Indridason books I have read. All the 3 have been fascinating. Indridason's main detective is a troubled and flawed man, yet you find him fascinating. He makes the reader and the other characters he encounters uncomfortable, yet people reveal more to him than perhaps they should. Besides the powerful characters, the description of Iceland describe a land of beauty, mystery and toughness. I found myself thinking about the characters long after I finished the book.
manugw More than 1 year ago
The author conceived this fair and balanced plot like a puzzle where all the pieces fit snugly, no pitfalls, no loose ends Keeps the dramatic intensity all the way to the end. The story is the star and exceeds the development of the characters, and the portrayal of the settings and landscapes where the events occur. Throughout the read, one can learn that tiny far off Iceland is a country suffering the same myseries witnessed in the Continet. Overall a nice enjoyable book for this genre
TheReadingWriter More than 1 year ago
I read this when it first came out in the U.S. in 2005 and remember it was so spare in almost every way. It seemed as though the lives described were there in the bare essentials, but there was nothing extra to alleviate the grimness of everyday living. In this story the murder of a roué is connected with another mystery: a rare genetic brain disease has been passed on to another dying child. A aging police inspector investigates, while confronting his own personal demons in the form of a drug-addicted daughter. It is a nuanced portrait, but very grey--read this when you feel a need for stark realism but have a firm grip on what is important in your own life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy criminal mystery novels and read all the Menkell, "Wallander" series set in Sweden. This read from Iceland seemed somewhat similar and thankfully was also a great one! The main character is interesting and honestly, the second and now third books in the series are even better. They flesh out the main character even better. The setting is great and the mysteries great too. Enjoy!
codaba More than 1 year ago
Even though the story is rather sad with quite a few unlikable people, the plot line is very good and the locale fitting. Iceland is perfect for the action. I completely enjoyed it.
johnbsheridan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An enjoyable debut. The lead detective, Erlendur, comes from the same school as Harry Bosch or Harry Hole and pursues his singular path of investigation with his colleagues trailing in his wake. The glimpses into his private life may not be integral to the storyline but add to the development of his character. Some of the intuitive leaps he makes seem to stretch the bounds of credibility and seem unlikely that in real life an investigation could ever follow the same course. Having said that there are enough twists and turns to make this a passable whodunnit.
punxsygal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From the book:¿Isn¿t this your typical Icelandic murder?¿ asked Detective Sigurdur Oli¿¿.¿What?¿ said Erlendur, engrossed in his thoughts.¿Squalid, pointless and committed without any attempt to hide it, change the clues or conceal the evidence.¿¿Yes,¿ said Erlendur, ¿A pathetic Icelandic murder.¿ An old man has been murdered and only a cryptic note left by the killer and the photograph of a young girl¿s grave are clue. Inspector Erlandur discovers the old man had been accused of rape many years before. And the case becomes more complicated.I felt as if the story started out as a small snowball rolling down a steep incline, picking up snow and debris as it rolled and grew larger. Bits and pieces of information were accumulated, remembered, and finally explained. It was a great introduction to this author and I will be looking for more of the series.
JosephLYoung on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A police procedural story set in Iceland. Detective Erlendur is a fifty year old long divorced father with two children, young adults. He had little contact with the children while they were growing but, welcomed them when they sought him out when they were older. His daughter was a drug addict deeply in debt to dealers while his son faired a little better. His life was his job and he worked long hours and weekends in the dark and cold and rainy north. A murder victim was found by his upstairs neighbor, laying on the carpet next to an overturned coffee table with a blood covered heavy glass ash tray next to his damaged head. during the course of the investigation, the victim was recognized as an accused but, not convicted rapist having been investigated four decades past. During investigations, police investigated a former co-worker who was imprisoned who told of other rapes that the victim had confessed. The woman who accused him of rape had a daughter who died at a young of a genetic disease. They discovered that one of the victims former associates went missing shortly after the rapes occurred. Basement odors and police suspicions led them to break up the floor seeking the causes. Genetic research and more investigation allowed detective Erlendur to tie up a bunch of surprising loose ends. An interesting story told in a dark and dreary place most suitable for a murder mystery.
devilish2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Also known as "Tainted Blood". Interesting look at Iceland. Great characters and a plot that held together even if it's not that plausible.
lit_chick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Scandinavian crime fiction is my recipe for escape. Jar City is a good, quick read - layered and intelligent. Indridason impresses with the clarity of his writing.
SandyLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first in a series set in Iceland and introducing Inspector Erlender. An elderly man is found murdered in his apartment. A note was left with the body¿¿I am him¿ along with a photograph of a graveyard of a young girl. Erlender discovers that the deceased, Holberg, had been accused of rape decades ago but he was never charged. The case leads Erlender and his team, Sigurdur Oli and Elinborg, to the victim¿s sister who is less than enthused with the police since they didn¿t believe her sister¿s accusation about the rape. Erlender confronts the detective on her sister¿s case as well as Erlender¿s former boss who is now retired. What was assumed to be a possible case of a robbery gone bad ends up with a puzzle that has tentacles leading to other victims and a possible co-conspirator of Holberg¿s who has been missing for 25 years. Meanwhile Erlender¿s daughter Eva is pregnant and walking a tightrope between a drug-induced stupor and trying to straighten her life out. She involves Erlender in the search for a bride who disappeared on her wedding day. A thoroughly enjoyable series. I had started with the second in the series first, SILENCE OF THE GRAVE, but it wasn¿t confusing to read out of order.
nyambol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good read, unpretentious "slice of life" for life in Iceland and particular the surroundings of Rekjavik. See the movie to get some good visuals of the region.
-Eva- on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Despite a slightly awkward translation, Indriðason's story is a captivating read. The climate is bleak and the landscape grey, and so are the characters and the crimes. This is the third book in the series about Detective Erlendur, but the first translated into English. Despite this, the reader hits the ground running with the main character who, with his drab personal life, his drug-addicted daughter, and absentee son, is very believable as a regular human - no supernatural powers or gut feelings here, not even a "standard" detective quirk. The secondary characters are a little flat, but hopefully that'll be rectified in subsequent books. Since I've been to Reykjavik, I didn't have a problem with the scarce descriptions of the place, but it would have been nice to see a little more of the landscape. I've heard that subsequent books are even better than this one, so I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series.
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in Reykjavik, Iceland, an elderly man is discovered to have been murdered in his apartment. Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson of the police and his crew find only a picture of a grave hidden behind a drawer in a desk and a note that says "I am him" on the victim as evidence, and as they continue to dig, they discover that their victim had been accused years earlier of sexual assault, although never convicted. Erlendur must now reopen the original case, which leads to the uncovering of secrets that some felt were better left buried forever.I love Scandinavian mystery novels, and this one is no exception. I can definitely recommend this one. Indridason is a fine author who sets a serious tone immediately which never lets up. The characters are lifelike and believable, and the mystery continues to build until the very end. I'll definitely be reading more of this author's work.
mcalister on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Murder mystery set in Reykjavik, Iceland. Maybe not a great book, but good enough that I finished it in one sitting. Not a lot of description about contemporary Iceland, but the author does manage to bring in the debate on scientific research vs. data privacy -- an issue raised in the last few years by Iceland's unique status as a fairly restricted gene-pool with a long recorded pedigree, and thus ideal for study. I would have preferred a little less soapbox on the author's part, but then again, better to have an opinion than none at all.
FicusFan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was very good, though a bit strange.The murder of an old man in his apartment has tentacles reaching back 40 years. There were 2 rapes that were never prosecuted, mysterious offspring, deaths by genetic disease, and a 25 year old disappearance. The relationships between Erlendur and his co-workers and with his daughter seem to be more talking at each other than actual communication. In fact now that I think about it, most of the character interactions started like that, and some never got passed it. Don't know if thats a function of the translation, a definite choice in characterization by the author, or an Icelandic characteristic ?I also agree with others who say there is very little of Iceland in the book, made worse by the fact that the translator filled the book with Britishisms. I felt like I was reading a UK mystery. There was a bit if Iceland in the mention of Lava fields, but to me that was about it.I did appreciate the maps of the locales in the front, and I wonder since this is actually the 3rd book in the series, if more detail had been included in the 2 earlier books which have not been translated into English.I will keep reading the series, but I wish the first 2 had been or will be translated.
RDHawk6886 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. I read Arctic Chill, also by Indridason, which was an inferior translation. This book stands out not only because of the depth of Erhlander's introspection, the hallmark of the Scandinavian thriller, but the uniqueness of the plot which is well conceived, realistic, not over- the-top and generates real human emotions which are the novel's engine. Truly superior book and fine translation.
tymfos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At first, I wasn't sure I would like this. The writer's (or translator's) style seemed abrupt, odd. The dialogue felt strange. The Inspector's thought process seemed inscrutable. One early scene between Erlendur & his daughter really bugged me. But I became accustomed to the style, and grew to like it. I liked the character of Erlendur as he gradually came into focus in my mind, and his train of thought progressed and became easier to follow. I also loved how the author created some memorable minor characters -- some of them just blew me away. (Like the two quibbling elderly ladies in the third chapter, victims of a home invasion.) I also learned a bit about Iceland.
hugh_ashton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Was it well-written? Yes (but it is a translation, so that's a little unfair as a judgement).Were the characters credible? Yes, but not people you would necessarily like.Plot? Plausible and gripping.Did you enjoy it? No, not really. I found it black and gloomy in a way that, for instance, Rebus novels are, but without the spark of life that illuminates those. I'd give it 3 1/2 if I could - it's not a 4, but it is better than a 3.
lechatnoirxvii on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read these books out of order. I started with The Draining Lake because it had been suggested since I enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (and the other two books) so I thought I would give Indridason a shot. I wasn't sure what was meant by the title of the book, Jar City, and you actually don't learn the meaning until you are 3/4 of the way through the book. Inspector Erlendur is a great, yet flawed character, which makes him even more interesting. I would defiantly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mysteries as well as foreign books.
Jcambridge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While a fan of Scandinavian mystery writers, this is the first book I've read by Idridason. It certainly kept my attention and I will read sequels to find out what happens to some of the characters. Although I'm Danish/Norwegian by heritage, I did find it hard at times to follow the names of characters (not as bad as a Russian novel, but nonetheless confusing at times). My son visited Iceland a few years ago -- that fact plus the recent volcanic eruption are perhaps what drew me to the author in the first place. The novel also makes me want to seek out some non-fiction about genetic research, particularly relating to homogeneous populations such as that found in Iceland.
MusicMom41 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book in a new, for me, mystery series that I had seen recommended by sjmmcreary on LT. It is a police procedural set in Iceland with an intriguing plot and an interesting main character. The writing style (in translation, of course) was enjoyable, portraying gruesome details in a manner that you felt the ¿horror¿ without being disgusted by graphic detail. The mystery was not only engaging but presented in a manner that even minor characters were interesting and the solution was puzzling for the this reader until the detective figured it out. In fact, there were times I wish I could have been in on the team consultations as they tried to determine the motive and perpetrator of the crime. This is a series I look forward to continuing.
vikk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Translated from Icelandic. Arnaldur Indridason is picking up quite a following and his work is being critically acclaimed among the new wave of mystery/thriller writers from Iceland, Sweden, and Finland. JAR CITY , originally titled TAINTED BLOOD, is his third novel and the first one I found. In JAR CITY, Indridason introduces Inspector Erlendur, a multi-layered character who not only walks the reader through a labyrinthine mystery but introduces his country, its customs, and its people. What begins as a simple death of an old man quickly draws Inspector Erlendur deeper into the man's past and then into an unsolved crime years ago. At the same time Erlander peels apart the layers of the old man and his past, Erlandur's own heart is peeled back by his daughter. The deeper Erlandur delves, the more complicated the case becomes and the more elusive the solution seems. This is a twisting, winding case that doubles-back more than once and makes you wonder if the Icelandic Inspector will ever learn the truth of the old man's death. JAR CITY has solidified my membership in Indridason's fan club, and I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series.
greglief on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although the crime mystery fiction genre has never interested me, I had heard good things about this book so I reluctantly decided to investigate. Not only I was not disappointed... I literally could NOT put it down! I eagerly look forward to reading other work by this author.
lriley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Indridason's crime novel 'Jar City' revolves around the murder of a serial rapist with a genetic defect. One of his own past crimes comes back to wreak justice on the miscreant. Inspector Erlendur and his team of detectives Elinborg and Sigurdur Oli are given the job of finding the killer of this loathsome criminal. On the home front Erlendur is doing his best to make amends with his pregnant but very distant daughter--who wants to stop doing drugs at least long enough to insure that she has a healthy baby. This is my second go around with Indridason. His novels are not all that suspenseful but are very meticulously plotted. He is a crafty crime writer who depends more on psychological insight than on driving the action for the sake of well having a lot of action. There is a very realistic and gritty feel to his urban Rejkavikian landscapes and although some times Erlendur might plod the story all in all is always moving inexorably forward towards a logical and satisfying conclusion.