Translated by Bernard Scudder
Picador, 2004 (originally published in 2000)
Mystery; 275 pgs
Rating: (Very Good)
First Sentence: The words were written in pencil on a piece of paper placed on top of the body.
Reason for Reading: I have a copy of Silence of the Grave sitting on my immediate TBR shelf (as opposed to sitting in my TBR room), and I decided to start at the beginning of the series with Jar City.
Comments: I admit that it has only been in recent years that I ventured outside of American and British mysteries. It wasn’t for lack of interest, but more because I just was not aware of them.
Iceland is one of those countries that I know little about, although I do know some things. I used to write to a girl in Iceland and we traded stories about our cultures and lives. I was quite excited when I came across Indriđason’s mysteries as a result.
Inspector Erlendur of Reykjavík is called to the scene of the murder of a 69 year old man who was found dead in his flat by his neighbors. A cryptic note left behind by the killer is the only clue at first, until the police stumble upon a photograph of a young girl’s grave during further search of the home. It is soon discovered that the murder victim has a dark past. The police must decide if the murder is a straight forward burglary gone wrong or his past come back to haunt him. Despite the doubts of his coworkers, Erlendur is determined to travel into the past and learn as much about the victim as he can, digging up well-hidden secrets and picking at old wounds not yet healed.
The character of Erlendur is subtle in his way. He seems simple on the surface, however, there is much more to him than how he comes across. He is quite bright, insightful, and thoughtful. I liked him immediately. He is not without his personal problems. His daughter, Eva Lind, is visiting and her own problems are spilling over into his life. Not only does he have to juggle the stresses of the murder investigation, but he also is dealing with his own personal issues. To contrast the rather old fashioned Erlendur are his more modern partner, Sigurdur Óli, and the ever questioning Elínborg. Both inspectors are professionals to the end.
The mystery itself is quite complex and goes in many different directions before finally reaching its end. Erlendur stays the course, even when going off on tangents to get more answers to questions that arise in the investigation. Author Arnaldur Indriđason does not fill the pages with frills and over the top excitement; rather he takes a more subtle approach, while at the same time tackling difficult topics and emotions. He has earned a faithful reader in me.
Favorite Parts: There was so much to like about this book. I loved that it rained constantly and that Erlendur had to be extra vigilant while driving. The moment when Erlendur and Eva Lind switched roles for a moment in each others’ lives touched my heart. I liked that no one knows the gender of Marion Briem and the author without being obvious never reveals that bit of information one way or the other (of course, a part of me also wonders what the point is in that?).Miscellaneous: Many thanks for all the well wishes for my dog, Riley! I think he's been to the vet more times this year than any other. Poor little guy. He had a great ol' time in the waiting area at the veterinarian's office yesterday morning but was not so thrilled when he had to sit on the exam table. The doctor put him on antibiotics and nausea medication. Riley is already feeling better as evidenced by his increase in activity, and he is eating a little more. The blood test results are due back tomorrow afternoon. Thank you again!
And just because it seems like I talk more about my dog than my cat, let me put in a good word for this adorable cat who is sitting on my lap purring away as I write this. Parker has done his share of comforting his companion through the illness. If only all siblings got along so well.