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.
When a lone septuagenarian is murdered in his apartment in the Nordurm ri district of Reykjav k, detective inspector Erlendur Sveinsson is called in, along with partner Sigurdur li and female colleague El nborg. 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. Reykjav k'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.
I enjoy reading mysteries set in other countries, and Iceland is a more interesting country than most. It has only 320,000 people living on a bleak and rugged island in the north Atlantic, but it's a fully modern society with a high level of educational and cultural achievement and has produced at least two fine mystery writers, one of whom is Arnaldur Indridason.
Iceland also serves as a natural genetics laboratory, because almost all Icelanders are descended from a small group of Vikings who settled there 1000 years ago, and they have kept detailed family records ever since. "Jar City" is the nickname given to the research institute where the DNA samples of every Icelander are kept, and it holds the key to what seem at first like a set of intriguing but unrelated stories.
I've been an avid mystery reader for decades, and I particularly enjoyed this book because the plot and its complexities are different from anything you are likely to have encountered before. Bernard Scudder's translation from the original Icelandic merits the highest possible praise: it doesn't read as if it was translated from an obscure foreign language.