Jar City and Hypothermia, by Arnaldur Indridason

Jan 14, 2011

I love discovering new authors, well, at least new to me.  Indridason is an Icelandic writer who has won numerous crime novel awards in the Scandinavian countries, but is not yet too well known here, since JAR CITY is the first of his books to be translated into English in 2005.  Both books cover crimes in Iceland, specifically in Reykjavik, and have been compared to works by Simenon, Per Wahoo, and Henning Mankell.  Inspector  Erlendur, himself full of contradictions and dealing with family conflicts, heads the investigation team, also  quite an array of characters.  Erlendur is one of those thoughtful  detectives who delves into detail about the victims, who in JAR CITY is a lonely old man who has been murdered, bashed on the head with a heavy glass ashtray, and found with a cryptic note on his chest.  Genetics and genealogy are essential clues to the perpetuator.  HYPOTHERMIA, a fine book to read during a cold snap, begins with an apparent suicide, involves a young couple who went missing 30 years ago in icy fog, and Erlendur’s own brother who went missing in the same weather conditions  when Erlendur was a young boy.   His drug-addicted daughter and marginally straight son bring their own problems and needs to Erlendur, attempting to get him and his ex-wife to meet for the first time in years. 

Indridason’s books are fascinating to read due in part to the setting, but also because  of the introspection and human foibles that Erlendur is prey to, which actually fuel  his abilities to solve the puzzles .  Watch for the sly humor that comes into conversations and ruminations.  Can’t wait to read the next one, SILENCE OF THE GRAVE.


Reviewed by Library Staff