JAR CITY


Jar City

JAR CITY by Arnaldur Indridason 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Still in my quest to read Scandinavian authors this year, Jar City is my first excursion into an Icelandic police procedural. And what an introduction!

To begin with, I had a problem with the Icelandic names. In “A Note on Icelandic Names: Icelanders always address each other by first names, since most people have a patronymic rather than a “proper surname”, ending in –son for a son and –dóttir for a daughter.People are listed by first names even in the telephone directory.”

My other problem with Erlendur, Detective Inspector with the Reykjavík police, was my continual reference to him as Elendil, a hang over from reading Lord of the Rings.

Be that as it may, this book gives us “a typical clumsy Icelandic murder”. (page 31). Murder in Iceland is a rare event but somehow, with this author, the death rate will escalate beautifully.

‘”Isn’t this your typical Icelandic murder?” asked Detective Sigurdur Óli who had entered the basement without Erlendur noticing him and was now standing over the body.

“What?” said Erlendur, engrossed in his thoughts.

“Squalid, pointless and committed without any atttempt to hide it, change the clues or conceal the evidence.”

“Yes,” said Erlendure. “A pathetic Icelandic murder.”’

Pathetic or not, the murder of an old man in his flat leaves the Icelandic police with no obvious clues.

Erlendur is another dour, forty something, long divorced cop who hates his children’s names, and it seems, his children. His drug addicted, pregnant, wayward and foul mouthed daughter seems to have one aim in life – to make her father pay for leaving home when she was two years old.

Arnadur Indridason weaves a tale of murder and mayhem that keeps the reader guessing until the end. The book takes it title from the Jar City – a collection of human body parts preserved for research. Although there is a lot of humour in the interaction between Erlendur and his colleagues, the book also has a serious tone with genetic inheritance and disease.

Arnaldur Indridason was born in 1961, the son of an Icelandic author. He won the Nordic Crime Novel Award for Jar City in 2002.

Jar City, the movie: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/film_reviews/article4725160.ece

Interview: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2006/jun/17/featuresreviews.guardianreview11

Title: Jar City

Author: Arnaldur Indridason

Translated by: Berhard Scudder

Publisher: The Harvill Press, 2004

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