Bleak atmosphere but the writing and storytelling are excellent

0373210426.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Inspector Erlendur returns in this gripping Icelandic thriller When a skeleton is discovered half-buried in a construction site outside of Reykjavík, Inspector Erlendur finds himself knee-deep in both a crime scene and an archeological dig. Bone by bone, the body is unearthed, and the brutalizing history of a family who lived near the building site comes to light along with it. Was the skeleton a man or a woman, a victim or a killer, and is this a simple case of murder or a long-concealed act of justice? As Erlendur tries to crack this cold case, he must also save his drug-addicted daughter from self destruction and somehow glue his hopelessly fractured family back together. (From Goodreads)

***Spoilers you have been warned***

I loved Jar City because of the dark bleak mood setting that’s described in Erlandur’s world. This one proves to be just the same. Coupled with a well written mystery that goes back into the past, this one lived up to the previous.

The book goes back and forth in time. It features on the past of a woman and her family and the horrendous abuse she endures. It leads up to the mystery surrounding the body found in the present. It’s good background storytelling and put in the missing pieces gradually as you progress in the book. Then as it goes forward to present day, you have Erlandur and his crew attempting to figure out the mystery but it also focuses on Erlandur’s past, and his attempt at patching things up with Eva Lind as she’s in a coma at the hospital.

Don’t expect twists and turns or any special revelations in this novel. It’s a subtle mystery but so well written that it’s a quick read and you’re so immersed into the book that the pages do fly by. It’s the writing style that makes it so good. The mood and setting is again, dark as usual. It’s more bleak than the previous one due to the subject matter and with what Erlandur experiences.

Admittedly, this isn’t for everyone. The physical, mental, emotional abuse featured in this book is hard to read. You sympathize with the mother and her children and Grimur is just one awful piece of garbage. Erlandur’s ghosts from the past is also revealed in this book and he’s got quite a lot of baggage on his shoulders (not including his ex wife and Eva Lind) but it gives his character more substance and he’s not just a presence in the novel. You also learn more about his colleagues (although I’d like to learn more about Elinborg) as they have their lives as well. I like this aspect of the novel as it shows what they do out of duty and gives them a more realistic human feel to the book.

Not much of a mystery but makes for really good reading, not only do the characters flesh out more but the writing is so well done. Recommended and I’ll be moving onto the next book after this one.

I give it an 8.5/10

 

Advertisements

Dark mood and intricate plot makes Jar City a good read

48fc036cb417fe6596d4b637051434f414f4141.jpg

When a lonely old man is found dead in his Reykjavík flat, the only clues are a cryptic note left by the killer and a photograph of a young girl’s grave. Inspector Erlendur discovers that many years ago the victim was accused, but not convicted, of an unsolved crime, a rape. Did the old man’s past come back to haunt him? As Erlendur reopens this very cold case, he follows a trail of unusual forensic evidence, uncovering secrets that are much larger than the murder of one old man. (From Goodreads)

What made this book enjoyable was how such an intricate web was spun throughout the novel giving the reader enough interest to keep reading. I was not sure what to expect from this book. Although I’ve heard good things about it I didn’t think I would be so engrossed and be flying through the pages to find out what will happen next.

I’m still not sure what to think of Erlandur as a character. Like most protagonists in series like these they usually have an underlying personal issue (whether it be health, or family for example) which he does have, but his personality I can’t really quite make out. He doesn’t seem to have much of one except he cares for his daughter and her well being even though they are estranged. He does have some sense of humor and wit but overall he appears to be driven by his work and hard working to solve the crime (we all need police like these don’t we?.)

I’m liking how his relationship with his daughter is turning out. It’s nice to see them slowly step away from their estrangement and it shows they do truly care for each other even though it’s done through yelling (most families are like that though, aren’t they?) It shows a lot of tough love, and I’m hoping the best for Eva Lind in the next books (I hope she appears as I’m slowly starting to like her more.)

What I enjoyed the most of this book was the plot like I mentioned earlier. It went from point A to point B but in such a dramatic motion it certainly kept you reading to find out what was going to happen next. The mood of the story also, was excellent. It was dark, dreary, melancholy, and although not suspenseful like the majority of the crime novels, it didn’t have to be. It made the setting suitable for the plot and made it more enjoyable.

One little thing I do have to add though, is the side story with the bride. I’m not sure why that was mentioned as it had little to do with the main story and it seemed like a filler. It wasn’t necessary as the plot itself was fine without it. I also enjoyed the ending of the book. It was sad, but you came to the realization it had to come to an ending like this.

As this is book #3 in its native language, it’s considered book #1 in its’ English translation. It seems all right and nothing seems to be lacking. Perhaps a bit of backstory might have helped but it was comprehensible to read. Greatly recommended! It’s a great break from the usual detective novels we have out there.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

Operation Napoleon by Arnaldur Indridason

Operation Napoleon

Operation Napoleon

1945: A German bomber flies over Iceland in a blizzard; the crew have lost their way and eventually crash on the Vatnajökull glacier, the largest in Europe. Puzzlingly, there are both German and American officers on board. One of the senior German officers claims that their best chance of survival is to try to walk to the nearest farm and sets off, a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. He soon disappears into the white vastness.
1999, mid-winter, and the US Army is secretively trying to remove an aeroplane from the Vatnajökull glacier. By coincidence two young Icelanders become involved–but will pay with their lives. Before they are captured, one of the two contacts his sister, Kristin, who will not rest until she discovers the truth of her brother’s fate. Her pursuit puts her in great danger, leading her, finally, to a remote island off Argentina in search of the key to the riddle about Operation Napoleon. (From Amazon.ca)

I really enjoyed this book because of its’ action sequences. There’s quite a few chase scenes, several fighting scenes, and you can’t leave out interrogations! so I flew through this book eagerly and thought it was pretty good. What I really thought was well done, was the translation job. Most books that have been translated have a tendency to be haphazard, and at times certain passages have to be read a few times over to get the gist of it. With this book there is no problem and the writing is clear, concise,and easily readable.

I had a hard time trying to like Kristin. It’s not that she’s not likable she’s just, there for the story I suppose. I guess the action is just so intense that you don’t really care about characters and development so no attachment is formed to any characters in the book. It also bugged me a lot that her ex boyfriends are lying about for convenience. Really??? an ex boyfriend would lend you his car without asking what you’re going to do??? how is that even possible with a main character that seems to have barely any feelings at all?? I understand how she came to rely on Steve, it looked as if he still had feelings for her. However with her other ex, it just felt like he (and his car) was conveniently there to get the plot going. It’s a little too good to be true for me.

The storyline is good, with enough suspense and action to get you going. The pace is actually quite quick and reading through the book will take no time at all. The main mystery and the ‘what if’ plot that’s central to this entire novel is interesting. What was a little irritating was trying to figure out what it was. It was almost every time Kristin and Steve were getting closer to knowing the secrets, the characters they were questioning suddenly clammed up and refused to talk further. It was frustrating and I was almost tempted to skip the pages just to find out what the big secret was.

Once it was revealed, and you got to the ending, it left you thinking; “Could it be possible?”. I thought that was a perfect way to end the book! my mind was all dizzy with all that fast paced action, and yet it got me thinking as well. It certainly was an adrenaline rush with a great ending. Do pick this book up if you feel like an action packed book with a very curious ‘what if’ to certain points in history. (Those who are into the Second World War might enjoy this.)

I give it an 8 out of 10.