Saturday, July 5, 2008

Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason

Jar City started off a little slowly. Fortunately, however, things did begin to pick up about half way through, and I found myself being both fascinated (how different from the British police procedurals I'm so used to) and completely absorbed by what was going on between the pages.

When 70-something year old recluse, Holberg, is found murdered in his apartment, the assumption is that the old man was murdered by a drugged out thief. But Detective Inspector Erlendur is not so sure -- esp when a message is found on Holberg, pointing to the fact that Holberg's murder was a personal one. In spite of his two fellow detectives' skepticism (murders in Iceland always have uncomplicated motives), Erlendur decides to follow his instincts. Instincts which prove sound when the detectives discovers that Holberg was once accused of rape more than 25 years ago...

As I have already noted, Jar City has a bit of a slowish start. But about a little less than halfway through the book, things do pick up -- the pacing becomes more swift and taut as the storyline begins to take on a more solid shape and motives and suspects come in thick and fast. Lending a certain air of austerity to everything is the author's (or indeed the translator's) precise and spare prose style and the vividly cold and icy depiction of Reykjavik. Jar City will be quite a different experience for mystery buffs more used to the British and American styles of police procedurals. This particular Inspector Erlendur (who brings to mind Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus) installment, for instance, was rather straightforward with few jaw dropping plot twists. However, it also proved to be quite an absorbing and interesting read, and was, in spite of the uncomplicated plot, it was also a rather suspenseful read. So that on the whole, I'd rate it as a worthwhile read, and I will definitely be looking forward to the next Inspector Erlendur mystery novel.

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