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Jar City
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 24, 2006
I'm a murder mystery fan and therefore love the 'hunt' for new writers and fresh characters. I now count myself among Indridason's fans. I've read all his books and eagerly look forward to each of them. He introduces us to characters that it's easy to care about and to mysteries that 'keep you guessing.' But what I love most is the glimpses into the private lives of the characters. I feel as if I'm getting to know them and little by little come to care for them. If you like a good mystery - theres no one better to read, if you like a good story - here's a good place to start.
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The sombre fall weather in Iceland can have a depressing influence on the people of Reykjavik. Even when it is not raining, the clouds are hanging deep over the city and the short days of light are preparing for an even darker winter. Arnaldur Indridason depicts the atmosphere brilliantly. A bleak, yet not uncommon environment for excellent thrillers. In Iceland, crime is usually straightforward, the motive evident and the case quickly resolved, muses Inspector Erlendur Sveinnson of the local police. He is of the brooding, morose kind, fitting well with the climate. Everybody knows somebody who is known to you - the geography of the island leads to these interconnections. However, when called to an apparent murder of 69 year-old Holberg, the pattern does not appear to fit. There doesn't seem to be a motive - nothing was stolen, for example. Did the victim know his attacker? Ponderous Erlendur has an eye for detail and that skill leads him down some unexpected paths in the hunt for the killer. Holberg also is not the quiet solitary retiree his neighbours think he is - a nasty past comes to light as Erlendur's perseveres, even when faced with opposition by his colleagues, should show results. The case requires digging deep into the past of the various victims that come to light. Secrets are buried deep in this close-knit society.

"Jar City", Indridason's the first novel translated into English, is an excellent introduction into Icelandic crime fiction. Erlendur's personality is very well developed. His complex personality is further revealed through his relationship to his daughter. Similarities to his Swedish detective colleague Kurt Wallender (by Henning Mankell) come easily to mind. Both are multifaceted and tested by personal as well as professional challenges. The social environment of the investigators, the victims and the villains is craftily portrayed. Clues go into all directions, yet tension is kept to the unpredictable end. [Friederike Knabe]
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Also published under the title "Tainted Blood"

This is the third Inspector Erlendur book but the first to be translated into English.

What seems to be like an ordinary murder of an old man whose head has been bashed in by an ashtray; things are far more complicated than they look. Many years ago the victim was accused of rape but never convicted of the crime. Did the old man's past come back to haunt him? Inspector Erlendur leads the police team and hunts down decade-old clues. They follow a trail of unusual forensic evidence that brings them around hidden paths and unexpected corners.

Erlendur's personal life is a side story in the novel. He is divorced with a strained relationship with his grown children. His daughter shows up on his doorstep once again asking for money. It appears she is trying to break her drug habit and Erlendur needs to help her.

Jar City is a skilfully crafted detective novel; it is well paced and well plotted. The author tells the tale in a straightforward manner and with very few sidebars into lives of minor characters not overloading the reader with social commentary. Some readers may not like this style, I did. His main character (Inspector Erlendur) is a complex and engaging one, a man in his 50's, in declining health, who struggles with the fact that both of his kids are drug addicts. The story revolves around the death of a child, organ removal and the use of genetic information. I can't wait to read the sequel.

Side note: if you are looking for this Icelandic author at a library you will probably find him listed under his first name, an Icelandic custom.
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on August 24, 2015
Received a Amazon recommendation about this Series due to my love of Scandinavian Mysteries. I started at the beginning as the characters continue to develop with each new book. It did take me a while to get my head around the Icelandic names and locations (my ignorance). Once over this blip and getting to know the main characters, I loved the mystery. Well written, translated and a gripping story.
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on January 31, 2013
I just like the Author's slow and methodical approach. His crime stories are unusual in that he shows the Hero, Dective Erlendur, in a unsentimental approach in solving a crime and yet with extraordinary empathy with human suffering.

I have collected all of his books and await with suspense his next novel.
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on March 18, 2013
Characters are really interesting and human, the setting is dark without being gruesome and the mystery realistic. I'm reading the series now
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on October 24, 2014
good story but sometimes difficult to follow due to Iceland names of people and places. the ending is predictable 3/4's of the way in.
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on November 20, 2014
Good story with interesting lead detective, flawed and deeply human.
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on December 14, 2014
very good, I enjoyed the writing.
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on July 11, 2015
CSI-like...
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