Ian's Reviews > Jar City

Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason
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Apr 29, 12

Read in March, 2012

There's plenty to like about Arnaldur Indriðason's novel Jar City (first published in Iceland under the title Myrin). Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson heads up the investigation into the murder of a man found bludgeoned in a basement apartment. The man lived a solitary existence, has no family and avoided contact with his neighbours. The clues left behind at the scene do not easily relinquish their meaning. But when Erlendur goes digging into the victim's past he unearths (literally) a series of disturbing secrets that disrupts a great many lives and leads by way of numerous twists and turns to the novel's tragic conclusion. Meanwhile we are treated to glimpes into Erlendur's self-distructive lifestyle: irregular hours, bad food, too many cigarettes, crappy apartment. Like the murder victim, he is a solitary soul, estranged from his family and seemingly without friends. But there is a bright spot. He reconnects with his daughter Eva Lind, who--trying to pull herself out of a pit of drugs and debt--seems intent on improving his life as well. All of this takes place under the brooding skies of a wet and dreary Icelandic autumn. Bernard Scudder's translation is serviceable, but the writing is secondary to the story, which is every bit as atmospheric and absorbing as one could hope from a book that describes itself as "a Reykjavik thriller."
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