By: Arnaldur Indridason
Published Year: 2005
Publisher: Vintage Books
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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): A man is found murdered in his Reykjavik flat. There are no obvious clues apart from a cryptic note left on the body and a photograph of a young girl's grave. Detective Erlendur is forced to use all the forensic resources available to find any leads at all. Delving into the dead man's life he discovers that forty years ago he was accused of an appalling crime. Did his past come back to haunt him? Erlendur's search leads him to Iceland's Genetic Research Centre in order to find the disturbing answers to the mystery.
When in Iceland, I knew that I wanted to purchase a book by an Icelandic author. As a book lover, I love getting books when I travel. Knowing that Iceland is such a book loving country, I didn’t think it would be hard to find a book. Apparently, there are only a handful of translators for Icelandic to English, so while there are tons of books by Icelandic authors, only a small few have been translated to English. This series was one of the most common ones I read about while doing some research, and it also jumped off of the shelf to me (even though it’s not my typical read) in the bookstore.
What I thought
Jar City is technically the third novel in the Detective Erlendur series, but the first one translated into English. I was a little worried that this would impact my enjoyment, but there does not seem to be a lot of carry over.
In this book, Erlendur is investigating a murder. While investigating, he discovers that the victim was actually accused of rape over 40 years ago, but never charged. While digging into the victims history, he continues to find more and more secrets that complicate solving the murder. In addition to the investigation, Erlendur’s drug addict daughter comes back into his life.
I enjoyed this book, but I do think it was greatly impacted by the translation. There were times when sentences didn’t make a lot of sense and it took me out of the story a little bit. I think I would’ve enjoyed it more if I was able to read Icelandic, but I did still enjoy it overall.
I think my other issue was that I didn’t really connect to Erlendur. He’s an older man, I think about in his 60s, and he’s a very black and white old fashioned cop. A lot of the mysteries/thrillers that I really enjoy have characters with special qualities. Erlendur is very average, and at times fumbles through what he does. While this does make him an interesting character, I didn’t enjoy reading about an average character who was working the case as he went along. There were even parts that he would not have solved if not from other people telling him what to look for and that was a little frustrating.
The mystery itself was well written, and I liked how it had many different layers. Sometimes there was a little bit too much going on at once, but it made parts of it more interesting. I could’ve done without the story line with Erlendur’s daughter, but I could see why it was included. It might have been more interesting if I had read the first two books, but I don’t really know.
By: Arnaldur Indridason