Jar City Book Review
A 5-Star Book Review of Arnaldur Indridason’s, Jar City, a procedural thriller that fires on all cylinders and touches the hearts and minds of readers.
A book review that reveals how paternity concerns us all. Indridason opens up a Pandora’s box with his brilliant narrative seen through the eyes of an eclectic, book-loving; yet, abrasive CID detective, Irlendur. Readers may dislike or love this complex character, but just to give you a taste of his depth read the following exchange between him and his subordinate, Sigurdur Oli, while they peruse evidence in the house of a suspected murderer. (The story revolves around paternity issues and the passing of deadly genetic diseases between generations.)
(My words added: Sugurdur Oli said), “Everyone always said I never resembled my father or mother or anyone else in the family.”
“I’ve always had that feeling too,” Erlindur said.
“What do you mean?”
“That you were a bastard.”
“Glad to see you’ve got your sense of humour back,” Sigurdur Oli said. “You’ve been a little distant recently.”
“What sense of humour?” Erlindur said.
What a biting exchange? Erlindur gets under the skins of all of the characters in the book, but it is this unenviable quality that is his strength as a chief investigator. Nagging persistence that renders his public and private life a nightmare on the social level, but highly successful in criminal investigations.
Paternity in Closed Societies
The author touches base on the broader thematic issue of paternity in the closed society of Iceland while exposing all of us to its implications. On the level of character, the lead investigator’s opens up the sorest of wounds by uncovering the underside of his personal life and ironically making him subject to scrutiny he routinely applies to his professional world without casting the same eye upon himself.
The Author’s Worldview
The story radiates its energy onto readers lulled into complacency by the dogged droning voice of the protagonist, Erlindur. His investigation sheds unwanted light on the underside of society. Even the well-intentioned activities of a collector of body parts, “…for scientific purposes,…”, pass under the light without the repercussions one might expect.
Jar City builds to an unanticipated and moving close. The implications of the use of genetic information are highlighted for all to see, threatening alarm bells. A great read.