I decided to read Jar City – the first of series of mysteries by Arnoldur Iridridason starring a detective in Reykjavik, Iceland named Erlendur. I started the novel a few days before my trip to Iceland and my friend thought it’d be a terrible idea to read a murder mystery that took place at our destination.
But I did it just to spite her.
And I wasn’t scared at all. Because Iceland is probably the safest place in terms of murders or even muggings. I was far more scared of falling into a waterfall or between the tectonic plates because Icelanders don’t believe in barricades (or enjoy watching tourists plunge to their deaths).
Jar City, however, was a very creepy novel with rapists, dead children and stolen brains. And some parts of the story made a lot more sense after my visit to Iceland. The part where Erlendur manages to track down a potential rape victim who never told anyone about her assault almost 40 years ago seems downright impossible until you realize Iceland’s population is just over 300,000 people. But even then, it’s only a little believable.
Jar City is a quick read and the translation makes it almost sound charming. Some of the investigative directions seem dubious. Had this been CSI, the higher-ups would have been all over Erlendur. My criminology degree had me saying “He can’t do that!”. It definitely lacks the grittiness of a good old American murder mystery but makes up for it for being creepy and for developing so many deeply lonely characters.
Oh and my trip was awesome. I’m ready to go again.
Photo credits: Me!