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Jar City

(Inspector Erlendur #3)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  27,438 ratings  ·  1,997 reviews
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 dete
Hardcover, 275 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by Minotaur Books (first published 1997)
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James Sorensen If you cared so little about finishing the book, I don' see what difference it would make to know what the note said!!!…moreIf you cared so little about finishing the book, I don' see what difference it would make to know what the note said!!!(less)
Linda Atamian You made a B-I-G mistake. Jar City is an incredible thriller!

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  27,438 ratings  ·  1,997 reviews

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Start your review of Jar City (Inspector Erlendur, #3)
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Translated mystery fans
This book is an interesting study of old crimes that generate new crimes through genealogy. Reykjavik Police Inspector Erlendur is called to the scene of a murder of an old man, Holberg. He discovers that the man was accused of rape back in 1962 and that there was a child.
Erlendur follows the investigation while at the same time dealing with his drug addict daughter. She tells him that she is pregnant and is trying to give up drugs. He is divorced from his wife and tries to help her on his own.
Ahmad Sharabiani
Jar City = Tainted Blood (Inspector Erlendur #3), Arnaldur Indriðason

Jar City, also known as Tainted Blood.

The body of a 70-year-old man who was struck on the head with a glass ashtray is found in a flat in Nordurmyri.

The only clues are a photograph of a young girl's grave and a cryptic note left on the body.

Detective Erlendur discovers that the victim was accused of a violent rape some forty years earlier but was never convicted.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز شانزدهم ماه اکتبر سال 2016میلادی

عنوان: ش
May 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am HIM

This cryptic message is left with the body of an elderly man when he is found dead in his apartment in Reykjavik. So begins Arnaldur Indridason’s brilliant contribution to the Nordic Noir sub-genre of crime literature. First published in 2000 in Iceland under the title Mýrin, I read and thoroughly enjoyed the English translation by Bernard Scudder published in 2005 by Minotaur Books.

A compelling police procedural that shows a law enforcement task force in Reykjavik investigating a murder
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017


"Squalid, pointless and committed without any attempt to hide it, change the clues or conceal the evidence."
"Yes," said Erlendur. "A pathetic Icelandic murder."

First impressions can be misleading. At first glance the murder of a lonely seventy year old man in his own apartment is just a sordid, simple robbery gone wrong. But as Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson of the Reykjavik Criminal Investigations Division starts to poke into the past history of the deceased, the case gets darker and dark
Jul 06, 2013 rated it liked it
I've taken an interest to Iceland ever since I read Halldór Laxness. Seeing there are a few Icelandic authors in translation - or maybe they are indeed just a few - I wanted to explore this country through the detective novels of Arnaldur Indriðason, as well. Luckily, he gives some interesting insights into the social aspect of Icelandic people. Well, more like the criminality aspect, through phrases such as:
Icelandic murders aren't complicated.
Icelandic judges were notoriously lenient.
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As Jar City begins, a seventy-year-old man is found dead in his musty, malodorous flat, obviously the victim of foul play. Reykjavik police Inspector Erlendur and colleague Sigurdur Óli find a strange note on the body. Three words. The third word is “HIM.” We don’t learn the rest until much later. Common thinking is that it must have been a botched robbery, but to Erlendur, that means that the note doesn’t fit. Erlander is not a common thinker. He does not always follow conventional practices or ...more
James Thane
Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
This very intriguing novel introduces Inspector Elendur Sveinsson of the Reykjavik Police Department. In Iceland, where virtually everyone is related, people are known by their first names. Erlendur is in the throes of middle age and not in the best of health. He lives alone and has two troubled children, including a daughter who's in debt to drug dealers.

An elderly man is murdered in his basement apartment and the killer leaves an enigmatic note lying on the body. Some of Erlender's colleagues
This is my first Arnaldur Indrioason novel featuring Inspector Erlendur, the weary
Icelandic detective who must solve a murder that spans several decades. The novel also won the "Glass Key Award" given annually to Nordic crime writers. I was impressed by the good writing and compelling plot and now want to read the series. Recommend to crime fiction readers.
Richard Derus
Dec 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Rating: 3 bleak * of five

It's hard for me to believe this is a debut novel. The author is, of course, a journalist and so the possessor of writerly skills; still, a novel is something wholly and entirely other than what he could be expected to do in his sleep.

I think the first-novel-ishness comes out in a few small ways. He introduces a deeply disturbing sub-plot and does almost nothing with it. He has characters behave in some ways that don't scan with their stated behaviors. But on the whole,
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
This was a great Scandi- Crime Noir book that I've read for my Scandi Noir "real life" book club. I had never read this author before so dived in with a clear set of expectations.

I was quickly hooked into the storyline and characters. A man is found murdered in Iceland where the book is set and from that murder unravels a spiel of other stories and revelations. It was like a magic box, more and more new surprises kept popping up to keep you guessing.

The writing is very good. I found the book tra
Having very recently read Reykjavík Nights: Murder in Reykjavík, which was a prequel that I really enjoyed, I was really looking forward to this book, which is the first in the series proper. I should say the first to be translated into English, because it is actually book 3 in Iceland. Which is too bad, because there are relationships which presumably were fleshed out in the first two novels, so you sort of come into them partway, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, in the prequel, Erlendur is a yo
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Hannah Kent, a contemporary Australian writer, has commented about "Iceland" as:

In Iceland, you can see the contours of the mountains wherever you go, and the swell of the hills, and always beyond that the horizon. And there's this strange thing: you're never sort of hidden; you always feel exposed in that landscape. But it makes it very beautiful as well.

Arnaldur Indriðason, a very famous author of Iceland, has spun a mind-blowing thriller story, Jar City, which has sold over 6 million copies
5.0 out of 5 stars For Serious Mystery Enthusiasts Only!, February 18, 2014

This review is from: Jar City: An Inspector Erlendur Novel (An Inspector Erlendur Series)
"Jar City" by Arnaldur Indridason.

5 stars and more, much more.

Erlendur is the head inspector with Sigurdur Oli and Elinborg on his team. Erlendur is a deductive sleuth par excellence combined with compassion. He is called to a murder of a lonely old man living in a basement apartment. The first thing that greets them as they enter
Nov 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a very enjoyable piece of Icelandic crime. We are introduced to Erlendur, a cop who has his own idiosyncrasies and his own way of working a crime scene. I found myself being drawn to his character as the book progressed, he is a man who I feel is quite complex even though he may not appear so. Erlendur has a drug addicted and pregnant daughter and it kills him to see her live her life this way, he is like any parent in this situation, tormented but lets her stay with him when she wants.
Sheila Beaumont
I really enjoyed this, my first Inspector Erlendur mystery, and my first mystery set in Iceland. It started off a bit slow, but after some intuitive leaps and deductions by the inspector, it became quite fascinating and hard to put down. The characters were well portrayed and interesting. It seemed to be well translated too. I do want to read more books in this series, starting with those available at the local public library.
Deb Jones
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series
In this Icelandic police procedural, a character-driven novel, the reader is treated to further insights into what makes Detective Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson of Reykjavik CID tick in both his personal and professional life. What begins as a "simple" murder of a 67-year-old man morphs into an investigation that delves into many more levels based on Erlendur's understanding of the few clues left behind.

In addition to being a police procedural, the author has interwoven additional layers of the s
Aug 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
Arnaldur Indriđason's Jar City is a mystery novel set in Reykjavik that plays with issues of paternity, family, and identity. Mostly, however, it's a whodunit. As such, it's a good read. But as more than that, though it gestures toward larger questions, it left me wanting more.

The jacket reviews call it a "dark, haunting novel" with an "emotionally wrought ending that caught me off guard and touched me in a way that few mystery novels do" (The Boston Globe), one that, according to Time Out Lond
Stephen Robert Collins
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is like lot of forien crime books such as NESBØ the first to be Tr into English.
It introduce us to rare delicious that bet not meny people will want to eat.Boiled sheep's head the whole head including the eyes.Ughh.
A dark crime that also has been made into a movie with also included him eating the head.So if the description wasn't bad enough you get see it too
Mick Dubois
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this one a long time ago. It was my first book by Indridason and it led to me reading almost all of his books. I might do a reread as I've finished with the whole series. ...more
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Yeah, it had a very similar feel to other Nordic thrillers. But, damn. That last 20%! You pretty well knew where the plot was going, but it was the characterization that left you balled in knots til the very end. Suspense barely covers it. Heart-attack-inducing might be more appropriate.
Sep 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Bleak landscape, bleak characters, bleak story. Icelandic murders are simple ones usually insists Inspector Erlendur. This one is certainly not. An elderly man, Holberg, is found dead in his apartment with a strange note left on the body. The case then leads in a variety of directions: to a young child, the product of a rape, who had apparently died of a brain tumor; the suicide of her mother; the disappearance at sea of Holberg’s friend; additional rapes; a terminally ill cop unsympathetic cop ...more
A very serviceable mystery set in Iceland (my first in that setting) and therefore featuring laconic detectives, much darkness (literal and figurative), and a seemingly huge cast of borderline depressive characters. Some of this depression may be laid at the feet of circumstance, some a part of the specific mysteries at the core of the story. While I did ultimately like the mystery and its resolution, the telling was so much more stark than what I'm used to that it detracted from the overall exp ...more
Connie G
Dec 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, europe, iceland, noir
Icelandic Inspector Erlendur is leading the team investigating the murder of Holberg, an old man. Nothing has been stolen in his flat, but the detectives found a mysterious note and a photo of a child's grave. The photo leads Erlendur to some unconvicted crimes by Holberg years ago. Was Holberg murdered by one of his victims?

The autumn weather during the investigation is chilly, gray, and rainy, an atmosphere that seems right for investigating the events that led up to the burial of the child. T
Nancy Oakes
Nov 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Nancy by: amazon
Set in Reykjavik, Iceland, an elderly man is discovered to have been murdered in his apartment. Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson of the police and his crew find only a picture of a grave hidden behind a drawer in a desk and a note that says "I am him" on the victim as evidence, and as they continue to dig, they discover that their victim had been accused years earlier of sexual assault, although never convicted. Erlendur must now reopen the original case, which leads to the uncovering of secrets th ...more
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-read
JAR CITY is the first book by Arnaldur Indridason that I have read. I was mostly interested reading it because it’s set in Reykjavik, and I visited there this year for a week to celebrate my birthday. It was sorta fun to read place names that were somewhat familiar. The book itself was not that interesting to me in the end. I have a theory that quality of mystery books depends on a number of factors: the characterization of the protagonist/detective, the interesting features of the sidekicks, th ...more
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an intriguing novel, atmospherically and in its inexplicable ability to sustain the reader's interest -- despite the fact that practically everyone in it is strange, idiopathic, stilted or weird of articulation, practically autistically disconnected from reality, and committed to viewing everything generically and without depth or dimension, as though through the filter of a bad fifties cop drama. Dragnet, possibly, though without the cheeriness and empathy of Joe Friday.

Erlendur, the pr
The detective Erlendur series is my favorite discovery of the past decade. There is absolutely nothing similar in the detective fiction genre, and this includes other Nordic crime fiction such as the Millenium trilogy. It is just so Icelandic. The main character is complex, flawed and a mass of contradictions. The author skilfully combines threads of different plots into a very effective narrative.
Among the themes which are explored are guilt, loss of a child and coming to terms with the past (
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jar City is a Nordic noir mystery set in Reykjavik, Iceland where the population is so small they are known to one another primarily by their first names only. Jar City is the third book in the series but the first to be translated into English. Although it is easy enough to catch on to the characters' back story, it was a bit slow going in the beginning as you sort through characters the author assumed you are already familiar with. It is worth the sluggishness so keep reading.

When an older ma
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Nov 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: AndrewP
This passed my book speed-dating test from back in September, but in the end this was not a book I needed to finish.

Part of the problem is that the publisher translating these started with this book, but this one is #3. I kept feeling there were details I was supposed to already know about the Inspector that would better illuminate some of the events, most notably the relationships with the other detective and his daughter. I'm not sure why you would start with book #3, but I really only picked
Sep 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Forget Girl with Dragon Tattoo. Read this instead.

Gripping, spooky, human.

Our wonderful detective has issues, a less than perfect home life and so in. In fact, this seems to be a treand in the any Northern Mystery I have read.

He is like Rebus, but with different tastes.

And then he has to solve a mystery that deals with brains.
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Arnaldur Indriðason has the rare distinction of having won the Nordic Crime Novel Prize two years running. He is also the winner of the highly respected and world famous CWA Gold Dagger Award for the top crime novel of the year in the English language, Silence of the Grave.

Arnaldur’s novels have sold over 14 million copies worldwide, in 40 languages, and have won numerous well-respected prizes an

Other books in the series

Inspector Erlendur (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Menschensöhne (Kommissar Erlendur, #1)
  • Dauðarósir (Inspector Erlendur #2)
  • Silence of the Grave (Inspector Erlendur #4)
  • Voices (Inspector Erlendur #5)
  • The Draining Lake (Inspector Erlendur #6)
  • Arctic Chill (Inspector Erlendur #7)
  • Hypothermia (Inspector Erlendur #8)
  • Outrage (Inspector Erlendur #9)
  • Black Skies (Inspector Erlendur, #10)
  • Furðustrandir (Inspector Erlendur #11)

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“أتظن أن ذلك لن يؤثر عليك؟ أتعتقد أنك قوي بما يكفي لتتحمل أشياء من ذلك النوع؟ أتظن أن باستطاعتك اكتساب مناعة ضد ذلك بمرور السنين ويمكنك مشاهدة كل القذارة من بعيد كأنها ليست من شأنك، وتحاول الحفاظ على رباطة جأشك؟ لكن ليست هناك أي مسافة، وليست هناك أي مناعة، لا أحد قوي بما يكفي، يلازمك الاشمئزاز كأنه شبح شرير في ذهنك، لا يتركك بسلام حتى تعتقد أن القذارة هي الحياة نفسها وتنسى كيف يعيش الناس العاديون. هذه قضيتك؛ مثل ذلك الأمر، مثل شبح شرير تم إطلاقه ليعيث فسادًا في ذهنك ولا يتركك إلا مُقعدًا” 23 likes
“الأطفال فلاسفة، سألتني ابنتي ذات مرة في المستشفى: لماذا لدينا عينان؟ أجبتها: حتى نرى بهما.
صححت لي ، قالت: حتى نذرف الدموع منهما”
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