Jar City

Jar City

A Reykjavik Thriller

Book - 2005
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Jar City introduces American readers to a new crime writer from Iceland whose work has created an international sensation. Arnaldur Indridason has been compared to such luminaries in the field as Henning Mankell, Georges Simenon, Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall; everyone agrees that here is a world-class writer.
When a lonely old man is found murdered in his Reykjavík flat, the only clues are a cryptic note left by the killer and a photograph of a young girl's grave. Inspector Erlendur, who heads the investigation team, discovers that many years ago the victim was accused, though not convicted, of an unsolved crime. Did the old man's past come back to haunt him?

As the team of detectives reopen this very cold case, Inspector Erlendur uncovers secrets that are much larger than the murder of one old man--secrets that have been carefully guarded by many people for many years. As he follows a fascinating trail of unusual forensic evidence, Erlendur also confronts stubborn personal conflicts that reveal his own depth and complexity of character. Like all great crime fiction, Jar City is about much more than murder, and avid suspense fans are about to discover a first-rate writer who has already received rave reviews around the world.
Publisher: New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur, 2005.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780312340704
Branch Call Number: MF Indr
Characteristics: 274 p. : maps ; 22 cm.
Additional Contributors: Scudder, Bernard 1954-2007.


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May 19, 2018

I'm sure I the various districts mentioned have more meaning to someone who knows Iceland (is Gardabaer more like Cary or Chapel Hill?), and I suspect that some character conveyed in conversations got lost in translation.

Apr 26, 2018

I don't understand all the great reviews for this book. Certainly not a thriller for me.

Jan 16, 2018

What made this book enjoyable was how such an intricate web was spun throughout the novel giving the reader enough interest to keep reading. I was not sure what to expect from this book. Although I’ve heard good things about it I didn’t think I would be so engrossed and be flying through the pages to find out what will happen next.
I’m still not sure what to think of Erlandur as a character. Like most protagonists in series like these they usually have an underlying personal issue (whether it be health, or family for example) which he does have, but his personality I can’t really quite make out. He doesn’t seem to have much of one except he cares for his daughter and her well being even though they are estranged. He does have some sense of humor and wit but overall he appears to be driven by his work and hard working to solve the crime (we all need police like these don’t we?.)
I’m liking how his relationship with his daughter is turning out. It’s nice to see them slowly step away from their estrangement and it shows they do truly care for each other even though it’s done through yelling (most families are like that though, aren’t they?) It shows a lot of tough love, and I’m hoping the best for Eva Lind in the next books (I hope she appears as I’m slowly starting to like her more.)
What I enjoyed the most of this book was the plot like I mentioned earlier. It went from point A to point B but in such a dramatic motion it certainly kept you reading to find out what was going to happen next. The mood of the story also, was excellent. It was dark, dreary, melancholy, and although not suspenseful like the majority of the crime novels, it didn’t have to be. It made the setting suitable for the plot and made it more enjoyable.
One little thing I do have to add though, is the side story with the bride. I’m not sure why that was mentioned as it had little to do with the main story and it seemed like a filler. It wasn’t necessary as the plot itself was fine without it. I also enjoyed the ending of the book. It was sad, but you came to the realization it had to come to an ending like this.
As this is book #3 in its native language, it’s considered book #1 in its’ English translation. It seems all right and nothing seems to be lacking. Perhaps a bit of backstory might have helped but it was comprehensible to read. Greatly recommended! It’s a great break from the usual detective novels we have out there.

Dec 04, 2017

This Icelandic thriller definitely deserves the “Nordic Noir” label
for it’s much more than a mystery : a glacial atmosphere , dark and complex characters,
violent crimes , detailed inquiries revealing gruesome conclusions , all the ingredients of a
captivating and intriguing novel. Melancholy Inspector Erlentur who has his own personal
drama to deal with adds to the humanist trait of the story.

May 14, 2017

My first (but not my last) from this author. Excellent is the only word for this novel. No question about it. The pace is just perfect, the humanity of the characters is very believable, and Erlendur is a knowledgeable policeman working sometime from gut feelings. He's as human as the rest of us, flaws and all. A very honest novel.

JCLHilaryS Mar 22, 2017

The first English translation in a series of Icelandic mysteries, I found Jar City to be a quirky read. When a man is found dead, bludgeoned to death by an ashtray in his own home, Detective Sigurder Óli says it must be a 'typical Icelandic murder' because it seems to be fairly straight-forward. But of course it's not because that would be a terribly boring story. With a minimum of clues, Detective Erlendur starts piecing together bits of the victim's life and crimes he committed 40 years ago. From there he begins to look at why he was killed now and not back then, and who could have killed him.

Mar 12, 2015

Crime fiction. The setting in Iceland is interesting, as is the information about Iceland's Genetic Research Centre, possible because of the country's small and contained population. Otherwise, the book is standard fare.

LMcShaneCLE Jul 19, 2014

I am a big fan of Ian Rankin's mysteries - this author follows a similar format - with the hard-boiled senior detective and younger associate - very noire :)

Dec 27, 2013

Jar City is the first of a series set in Iceland. The murder is current (2001) and may have been triggered by events 40 years earlier. Scandinavian crime novels have become popular with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Wallander series. A common theme is that historically the authorities abused their powers. Add some Kafkaesque elements and there's a winning combination.

Jun 16, 2013

This book won the Glass Key Award for best mystery by a Scandinavian author. Amazingly, the author won again the following year. I can only surmise that no other mysteries were published in those two years. This book is dense, turgid, depressing, and illogical.

Other winners of the Glass Key Award include Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson ("Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", etc), so the award is normally credible.

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