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'Jar City' short on sentiment, long on gloom

Spotlight on Arnaldur Indridason's “Jar City.”
Oklahoman Published: January 12, 2014



Why it matters

“Jar City” helped introduce America to Nordic mysteries and thrillers, a genre that continues to remain surprisingly popular.

In general, American readers have preferred mysteries set in English-speaking countries, perhaps especially Great Britain.

Nordic tales often are darker and moodier, their roots set in ice and snow and long, dark winter nights.

Indridason's novel marks the inaugural adventure of taciturn, gloomy Erlendur Sveinsson, a detective inspector in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The satisfying plot centers on the murder of a longtime rapist, but the novel is most compelling for its restraint, which calls to mind Iceland's Old Norse family sagas.

Like the saga writers, Indridason doesn't dwell long on his characters' thoughts or motivations.

Events are related in an almost journalistic fashion. It's a style uncommon to most American and British writers, but it is strangely compelling.

What to read next

More of Indridason's books. Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy. “Roseanna” by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo.


by Ken Raymond
Book Editor
Ken Raymond is the book editor. He joined The Oklahoman in 1999. He has won dozens of state, regional and national writing awards. Three times he has been named the state's "overall best" writer by the Society of Professional Journalists. In...
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