Published: 7th May 2009
Number of Pages: 352
Genre: Crime Drama, Action-Adventure, Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Murder Mystery, Adult
Recommended Age: 15+
Contains: Violence, Death, Swearing, Alcohol, Drug and Smoking References
Author's Blog: Author Page on Macmillan
A man is found murdered in his Reykjavík flat. There are no obvious clues apart from a cryptic note left on the body and a photograph of a young girl's grave. Detective Erlendur is forced to use all the forensic resources available to find any leads at all. Delving into the dead man's life, he discovers that forty years ago he was accused of an appalling crime. Did his past come back to haunt him? Finally, Erlendur's search leads him to Iceland's Genetic Research Centre in order to find the disturbing answers to the mystery.
This prize-winning international bestseller is the first in a new series of crime novels set in Iceland.
"I am him."
An old man called Holberg was found murdered in his home. On top was a note no one understands and a further search of his home revealed a photo of a child's grave.
Detective Erlendur can't make heads or tails of the murder, until he begins to unravel the dead man's life. And finds he was suspected in a very, very violent crime four decades ago.
Which leaves the question of why was he killed now? All these years later? Was it just his crime coming back to haunt him?
Or does the mystery run even deeper than that...?
I do love crime thrillers. I love to watch them, love to read them. So when my aunt told me she had a brilliant crime book that I had to read, I jumped on the chance! My aunt has a good taste in murder mystery, so I knew this would be good! I'll admit I've seen some not-stellar reviews of Jar City, but I personally really enjoyed it.
I really liked Erlendur. He was very old school and logical, kind of brash and straight-to-the-point. He was a generally good person and a caring one. I'll admit, he wasn't like Sherlock-exceptional, but he was so intuitive and so good at his job. I must say, the father-daughter relationship between Erlendur and Eva Lind was intriguing, mainly 'cause Eva Lind was such an intriguing character. I can't wait to see where everything between them goes.
Admittedly, the other detectives weren't as padded-out as Erlendur. Elínborg especially seems like she could be extended more - I barely felt like I knew her. I knew a little more about Sigurdur Óli, but not quite enough. I only mention this because I think both characters could be so much more.
I loved the writing, all the random little details. It was a wonderfully simple style, really easy to read, but full of descriptions and mystery. And the plot was equally brilliant and wonderfully twisty. It wasn't sensationalised or out of the ordinary. The plot and murder all felt really realistic and gritty-real, if that makes sense. I'll admit it sometimes wasn't the most suspenseful or mind blowing plot, but it was really effective and I have a feeling the author is only going to get better from here. Plus, I loved learning more about Iceland, about their surnames: the father's name and "dóttir" for daughter and "son" for son. Cool, huh?
The one thing I don't get about the book is the mystery surrounding Marion Briem. All the descriptions were so cryptic - we had no idea whether Marion was male or female. It was annoying.
As I love thrillers, I've read a lot of twisted crime thrillers - some were mentally scaring really! - but I've never read any by an Icelandic author. After reading Jar City, I can't wait to read more! The story is twisty but not scarringly twisted. I really enjoyed the setting and mystery and the genetic/forensic twist to the story, as well as the moral and ethical themes: it wasn't heartbreaking, but it was thought-provoking and complex. Anyway, I'm super excited about the rest of this series! Yay to Icelandic crime thrillers!
4 Out of 5
4 Out of 5
Read this book if you liked:
Rizzoli and Isles by Tess Gerritsen
Bones by Kathy Reichs
Kurt Wallander by Henning Mankell
Challenges It's Taking Part In: