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by Arnaldur Indridason
St Martin's Minotaur, October 2005
288 pages
ISBN: 0312340702

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason won the British Crimewriters Association Golden Dagger award for SILENCE OF THE GRAVE a month or so back -- and then saw the goalposts moved to stop a translated book repeating his success.

And considering there is some outstanding European crime fiction finally being translated into English, courtesy of some first-rate translators, that's very sad.

JAR CITY, Indridason's first book, has been available in the UK for a while, but is finally available on the other side of the pond. I usually take those comparisons plastered all over book jackets with a lorryload of salt. But I think it's a fairly safe bet to say that if you like Swedish writer Henning Mankell you'll like Indridason.

On the surface the two have a lot in common, with their books featuring a morose policeman with a broken marriage, a dysfunctional daughter, health worries and fairly anonymous colleagues.

JAR CITY is described as a Reykjavik thriller, but in fact it could have happened virtually anywhere. I was hoping for a free return ticket to Iceland from the comfort of my armchair, but in fact didn't get much of a sense of the city or the country. This is unlike Mankell, where the small town, the surrounding countryside and the nation as a whole inform and influence what happens in the books.

Indridason, though, is a good storyteller, with his spare, terse writing. And JAR CITY boasts an ingenious plot, solved by methodical police work. A lonely old man is found dead in his flat. The only clues are a cryptic message from the killer and a photograph of a young girl's grave. As Inspector Erlendur and his team investigate, they start to uncover some uncomfortable and deeply-buried memories.

JAR CITY kept me engrossed -- particularly the bleak, unexpected, race-against-time ending -- and made me want to track down the rest of Indridason's work, including his Dagger-winning book. Definitely a writer to watch out for.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, November 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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