Title: Jar City
Author: Arnaldur Indridason
Release Date: September 19, 2006
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson has seen many murder cases in his time with the Reykjavik police department, but they’ve all been straightforward, easy-to-solve crimes of passion. So when an old man is found murdered in his apartment, Sveinsson believes that this will, once again, be simple. But as Sveinsson starts looking into the victim’s life and discovers that he had a shady past, and many people had reason to want him dead, the inspector realizes that this case may be more complicated than it appeared.
Jar City is the first novel in the bestselling Reyjkavik murder mystery series, and as you’ve probably surmised, the series is set in Iceland. This makes for an interesting setting, which becomes integral to the book. Iceland is a small country; its biggest city, Reykjavik, only hosts a population of around 200,000 people. It gives the novel an almost small town feel—everyone refers to everyone else by first names, and most Icelanders are related to one another in some way. However, it also means that the novel feels isolated and closed off; help won’t be arriving en masse to save the day. It’s an interesting atmosphere, and one that Indridason takes advantage of to give this novel a unique feel.
Erlendur is about what you’d expect from his description. He’s around 50 years old, and has two children, both of whom who’ve turned out to be disappointments. His daughter, Eva Lind, plays a role in this novel, and it will be interesting to meet his son in future installments. Indridason developed his main character well, making sure the reader felt they really knew him, but leaving enough room for untold secrets and further exploration in future novels. He’s a character you’ll enjoy getting to know, and you’ll appreciate his determination and resourcefulness in solving this case.
The mystery in Jar City is certainly complicated; while it’s not necessarily difficult to follow, there’s a lot going on. Erlendur follows the case where it leads, even on the strangest tangents. Indridason really keeps the reader guessing in this book, as it’s a novel that’s all about making connections. It deals with some difficult issues, namely rape, but on the whole it’s a very well done and unique novel.
Crime fiction is a genre that’s really exploded in the last few years; it’s hard to separate the good from the bad because there’s just so much out there. Indridason’s Jar City is a satisfying start to what promises to be an incredibly engaging, well- written series. It’s absolutely worth your time; it will be interesting to see what Indridason does with his main character and setting in future installments.