Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I guess only the Scandinavian writers can come up with a crime and a subplot as bizarre as this. And the most wonderful part of the whole setup is that they make it look and sound so normal. Which is not at all normal, as these countries in which the books are set, in this case Iceland, has the lowest crime rates in the planet. Maybe this is their way of fantasising things and incidents which might never happen in reality, in their country.
But, real or no real, JAR CITY shot right up to the top as one of my favourite books. Inspector Erlendur of Reykjavík is called up to investigate the death of an old man, and pinned on his dead body is a note. Further investigation brings out the fact that this guy was no angel, and that he was involved in a rape incident almost 30 years ago. The plot was not that twisted, or extraordinary, but what stood out was the brutality of the crime. The incident that led to the main murder, and the fallout of that incident was cold and unpleasant. But that’s the reason I read these books. If they repelled me I would have read a cozy mystery instead!!
The best part of the book has to be the setting and the atmosphere surrounding the case. Now, I stay in India, and Iceland only appeared as a name in my geography books when I was in school. To have a book which has a murder investigation set there, was more that I could have asked for. The weather, the ambiance perfectly synced up with the plot. The whole offering was cold and gloomy. The main character of Inspector Erlendur is a bit of a stereotype fictional policeman. Divorced, with both his son and daughter being addicts, he finds solace in his job.
Recommended to anyone who loves cold and disturbing murder mysteries. Others stay away from this, or for that matter any Nordic Crime fiction.
View all my reviews