Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Staff Pick - Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason

I was looking for a new good read and my colleague suggested Jar City, from the Reykjavik murder mysteries by Arnaldur Indridason. My co-worker mentioned that the series was not a light and warm read but it was interesting, realistic, and she liked the main character, Inspector Erlendur.

I am a cozy mystery fan but I really enjoyed this dark and thought-provoking novel. The mystery is set in Reykjavik, Iceland. The weather sets up the atmosphere for investigation: it is fall, rainy, chilly, and grey:

“When a lone 69 year old man is murdered in his apartment in the Nordurmari district of Reykjavik, detective inspector Erlendur Sveinsson is called in. The victim, a man called Holberg, turns out to have been a nasty piece of work, and Erlendur is disgusted by the series of rapes Holberg apparently committed. The rapes and the deaths of a number of young women may be connected, and the search brings Erlendur to the forensic lab, whose old "jar city," since disbanded, held research organs. Meanwhile, Erlendur's daughter, Eva Lind, is pregnant and still using drugs; she flits in and out of his life angrily, but may be crying out for help.”

Inspector Erlendur is a complicated man and a great detective. He is around 50 years old, divorced, and has two children who are addicted to drugs. He makes his best efforts to connect with his daughter Eva Lind. He wants to be a father now, support his daughter and help Eva Lind with her issues. I like that their relationships started to change and develop. It is a simple and human story that touches on many life problems: ethical, social, family, parenting, and identity.

The story also unveils honestly unknown Iceland, Reykjavik, its people, its surroundings, and landscapes.

Jar City is more than a murder mystery, it has elements of suspense and will be appealing to fans of both crime and suspense fiction. Avid readers of Scandinavian writers will enjoy the series as well. I cannot wait to read the next moving story in the series Silence of the Grave.

If you have already read Inspector Erlendur mysteries, the Novelist suggests the following read-alikes:

Kurt Wallander mysteries by Henning Mankell
Gunnhildur Gisladottir mysteries by Quentin Bates
Inspector John Rebus mysteries by Ian Rankin


  1. Silence of the Grave has one of the best first lines in a novel!

    1. I agree! The first line is great! It immediately draws you into the story.