On this sunny, warm Canada Day weekend, I’m enjoying a hot cup of chai tea and a bowl of fresh Ontario strawberries as I think about what I’ve been reading over the past week (unfortunately not written by a Canadian author!)
I needed something to read after finishing the book I told you about last week, Magpie Murders, which really was a fun, entertaining literary mystery. I read a review in our local paper by the manager of one of the community libraries for a book by an author I’ve been meaning to try for some time. She reviewed Jar City, by Arnaldur Indridason, the first in the “Detective Erlendur” series by this Icelandic author to be translated into English. The body of a 70-year-old man is discovered in his basement flat, having been bashed over the head with a heavy glass ashtray, and Detective Erlendur and his team are called in to investigate. With only the discovery of a photograph of a child’s grave and a cryptic message as clues, the team must dig further to find suspects and motive. What they uncover is a decades-old, long-buried accusation of rape, which leads them deeper and deeper into the dark recesses of Icelandic genetic coding. I have long been meaning to read some of Indridason’s mysteries, and I just so happened to have a copy of this novel on my bookshelf upstairs, so I pulled it down and began to read. It initially reminded me of Henning Mankell’s “Kurt Wallander” series, since Erlendur and Wallander have many similarities: they are both gruff, divorced loners who are generally not considerate of the feelings of others and are often not aware of the need to adhere to “political correctness”. They also both have daughters who are causes of concern. And the atmosphere for both series is dark, literally and figuratively. But Mankell’s novels have, in my opinion, more substance than Indridason’s, and Jar City offered a pretty superficial look at the genetic research being done in Iceland (I was reminded of Peter Hoeg’s excellend novel Smilla’s Sense of Snow). I have another of Indridason’s novels on my shelf, and will give it a chance, as I’m basing my judgments of the whole series on the reading of just one novel. It was enjoyable enough, a really quick and easy read, with an interesting storyline - I just wish he’d delved more deeply into some of the issues and developed the characters a bit more fully. Still, it was just what I needed to get me through the last week of school, an easy, breezy, lightweight Scandinavian mystery.
That’s all for now. Get outside and enjoy the sunshine (and no chance of thunderstorms today - hurray!!)