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Jar City: An Inspector Erlendur Novel [Kindle Edition]

Arnaldur Indridason , Bernard Scudder
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (223 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
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Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

From Gold Dagger Award--winning author Arnaldur Indridason comes a Reykjavík thriller introducing Inspector Erlendur
When a lonely old man is found dead 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 discovers that many years ago the victim was accused, but not convicted, of an unsolved crime, a rape. Did the old man's past come back to haunt him? As Erlendur reopens this very cold case, he follows a trail of unusual forensic evidence, uncovering secrets that are much larger than the murder of one old man.
An international sensation, the Inspector Erlendur series has sold more than two million copies worldwide.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When a lone septuagenarian is murdered in his apartment in the Nordurmýri district of Reykjavík, detective inspector Erlendur Sveinsson is called in, along with partner Sigurdur Óli and female colleague Elínborg. Everyone is related to everyone else in Iceland and refer to one another by first name, even formally. Erlendur is about 50, long divorced, with two kids in varying degrees of drug addiction. The victim, a man called Holberg, turns out to have been a nasty piece of work, and Erlendur is disgusted by the series of rapes Holberg apparently committed. The rapes and the deaths of a number of young women may be connected, and the search brings Erlendur to the forensic lab, whose old "jar city," since disbanded, held research organs. Meanwhile, Erlendur's daughter, Eva Lind, is pregnant and still using; she flits in and out of his life angrily, but may be crying out for help. Reykjavík's physicality, and the fact that crimes are relatively rare in Iceland, gives things a defamiliarizing cast. The writing, plot and resolution are nicely done, but remain fully within genre boundaries. (Oct. 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

It's hardly surprising that there is a thriving crime-fiction scene in Iceland (insular worlds with forbidding climates breed crime quite nicely); it is surprising, on the other hand, that it's taken until now for any Icelandic mysteries to penetrate the U.S. market. We're off to a fast start with this gripping procedural starring Inspector Erlendur Sveinnson, a veteran detective with the Reykjavik police. Murder is relatively rare in Reykjavik, and it is usually solved easily (crimes of passion are the norm). This time, though, there are no easy answers. The brutal killing of a lonely pensioner seems inexplicable until Erlendur (Icelanders always address one another by first name) begins to track back through the man's life, uncovering not only a plethora of dirty secrets but also a genealogical trail whose tentacles appear to stretch throughout the country (in Iceland, "everyone seemed related or connected in some way"). There is a Ross Macdonald element to all this rummaging in familial closets, but the emotional pain Erlendur feels as he gets closer to the truth recalls Madeleine Nabb and Donna Leon. A powerful, psychologically acute procedural drama. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 688 KB
  • Print Length: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (September 19, 2006)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,251 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
105 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Demon Seed July 4, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've never come across an Icelandic murder mystery before, and wasn't sure what to expect. But this tightly drawn police procedural turned out to be a rare treat. Reyjavik police inspector Erlendur Sveinsson is called to investigate the apparent murder of "Holberg", an elderly man found lying dead in his basement flat with his skull bashed-in. Erlendur has little to go on - Holberg led a solitary life and there were no witnesses. But an obscure three-word note apparently left behind by the murderer, and an unidentified photo of the grave of a child long since buried, lead Erlender and his CID team down a complex path of murder, rape, and, surprisingly, genetically transmitted oncological diseases. Holberg, as Erlendur partner Sigurdar Oli dryly points out, "was no model citizen."

In a setting sure to dismay The Icelandic Bureau of Tourism, "Jar City" features bleak urban settings with apartments built on swamps and more rain than "Blade Runner". Combined with a Scandinavian brand of stoic fatalism, the end result is a deeper shade of noir uncommon in standard pop fiction. Absent from "Jar City" are the annoying comic book cardboard super-characters with super model looks and Ph.D. brains quipping witty one-liners. Author Arnaldur Indridason's Erlendur, the grizzled and crime-hardened cynic, leads a solitary life only a step away from the criminals he pursues, bringing to mind Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko or Ian Rankin's John Rebus. And like the best of Rankin or Smith, "Jar City" is an intelligent, skillfully crafted murder mystery, well paced, well plotted, and well read. Take a step off the well-beaten track and give this little jewel a try.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Nordic crime thriller December 8, 2006
Iceland native Arnaldur Indridason's "Jar City" is an outstanding police procedural written in a style reminiscent of the superb Scandinavian crime authors Mankell and Wahloo & Sjowall.

Indridason's protagonist Reykjavik police inspector Erlendur is summoned to investigate the bludgeoning murder of a reclusive old man named Holberg is his foul smelling basement flat. Aided by his colleagues Sigurdur Oli and Elinborg they discover a mysterious note on the corpse and a black and white photo of a gravesite.

Erlendur meticulously begins to unravel clues that enable him to gain insight into the identity of the victim. It is determined that Holberg, a truck driver had a sordid past, being accused by not convicted of rape many years ago. As Erlendur peels away more layers of Holberg's past he realizes that there are connections to other unsolved and unreported`criminal acts. Following these leads he is able through modern genetic techniques in criminology to navigate his way towards solving this atypical case.

Indridason sucessfully endows a sense of believability to his characters with a considerable degree of developement to their personnae. Eldendur is portrayed as an "everyman" not a superhero. He's a fiftyish long divorced father of two in declining health, who struggles with the fact that both of his kids are drug addicts.

Indridason creates a sense of reality in his portrayal and gives us a taste of the lifestyle in the remote confines of Iceland.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Series Debut April 10, 2006
One of my major problems with many police procedurals is that the plots often go completely off the deep end and become wildly improbable messes (among Scandinavian authors, I think Henning Mankell is frequently guilty of this). So, it's somewhat refreshing to come across a relatively straightforward story like this award-winning series debut from Iceland. In it, we are introduced to Detective Inspector Erlendur, a classic 50ish, divorced, rumpled, morose, tactless, and running-to-seed character who nonetheless possesses the requisite instinct to be a top detective. Although he lacks some of the perfunctory traits often assigned to such characters (for example, he isn't a gourmand, or jazz aficionado, or anything like that), he's very much in the mold of Sejer, Rebus, Resnick, and other such policemen protagonists.

We meet Erlendur as he is called in to investigate the apparent murder of an elderly man in Reykjavik. It doesn't take long for the police to discover that the old man was a nasty character who had been accused of rape almost 40 years ago. With little to go on, other than the possibility that it was a random break-in gone wrong, Erlendur leads his team deep into the past, to try and uncover who might have had a motive for killing the old man. The further they dig, the more nasty secrets they uncover, and the more they must engage in very uncomfortable interviews that dredge up hidden pain. The plot and solution hinge on an aspect of Icelandic society that is rather unique, and it's nice to see the author taking advantage of this to good effect. Another subplot (which is rather extraneous) involves a runaway bride, and meanwhile, Erlendur must also try to deal with his drug addict daughter who flits in and out of his life.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Byzantine plot, anonymous characters July 30, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'll say off the bat that I'm currently reading the sequel to Jar City, Silence of the Grave, and finding it pretty good. But Jar City: not so much.

Jar City isn't terrible, but it seems to me to suffer from two flaws. First, the plot is implausibly complex. The basic premise behind it--a kind of biomedical detective story--is clever enough. But the chain of evidence that leads the protagonist Erlendur ultimately to the murderer is torturous. Author Indridason himself must sense this, because he has Erlendur's subordinate cops, Elinborg and Sigurdur Oli, questioning the wisdom of their boss's dogged insistence on following up on flimsy clues. At the end of the day, Indridason wants to portray Erlendur as a sage cop with a good nose. But the reader, along with Elinborg and Sigurdur Oli, is left incredulous.

Second, the characters never really come alive. Elinborg and Sigurdur Oli have little more than walk-on roles, and Erlendur himself, a middle-aged man riddled with regrets and angst, never quite reveals himself to the reader. At the end of the novel, the impression he leaves is visual--rumpled suit and hair, muddy shoes, etc--rather than psychological. Even his relationship with his addict (and pregnant) daughter Eva Lind never quite develops. And since what seems to drive Erlendur in this case is empathy with a long-dead little girl who was an indirect victim of a crime, you'd think that Indridason would've more fully played out the relationship between father and daughter.

Still, perhaps Indridason intends to develop his characters incrementally as the series of novels describing their adventures unfolds. And the plot of Silence of the Grave so far seems much more plausible. So it's worth sticking with Indridason a while longer.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I am him
I read this novel after branching out in my reading of Scandinavian mysteries. I got hooked on the Wallander series, and then read an article about Scandinavian mysteries. Read more
Published 2 hours ago by Michael Nordberg
4.0 out of 5 stars Good thriller
It is the second book by ARnaldur Indridason I read and I like it so far. In this one, we can find out more about Inspector Erlendur, his daughter who has just lost a child and his... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Edyta Brzeczkowska
2.0 out of 5 stars Give it a pass
This was my first Indridason book. I was not overly impressed.
Published 12 days ago by Peggy
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great one!
...just another terrific book from one of my favorite "semi-Scandinavian" writers.

Published 19 days ago by mijasguy
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good book, a step above others of the genre.
Published 21 days ago by Dr Doran
4.0 out of 5 stars Same book, different title....
Just a note; this book was also sold for kindle under the title of Tainted Blood.
Published 22 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read!
Published 23 days ago by J. Huber
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth checking out
The first of the Reykjavik Murder Mysteries is a book for those fans of the genre who have taken a liking to the darker Scandinavian style of writing (think Girl with the Dragon... Read more
Published 28 days ago by Bernie de Vries
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing. Not what you expect after reading the acclaims ...
disappointing. Not what you expect after reading the acclaims for this author.
Published 1 month ago by Helene Lasry
4.0 out of 5 stars Jar. City
A very satisfying book. I enjoy reading about Northern Europe. The characters are all Icelanders, and their adventures are compelling and reveal a lot about what living in... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

Arnaldur Indridason is the author of Jar City, Silence of the Grave, Voices, The Draining Lake, and Arctic Chill. He won the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Silence of the Grave and is the only author to win the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel two years in a row, for Jar City and Silence of the Grave. The film of Jar City, now available on DVD from Blockbuster, was Iceland's entry for the 2008 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, and the film of his next book, Silence of the Grave, is currently in production with the same director. His thrillers have sold more than five million copies in over 25 countries around the world. He lives in Iceland.

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