Ali on Arnaldur Indridason

There’s a warm appreciation of the work of Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason over at The Rap Sheet. Actually, Ali Karim is to crime fiction criticism as Vindaloo is to Indian cuisine. He isn’t just warm, he’s hot! hot! hot!

For me, [Boucercon 2008] was a magical moment to speak with a novelist whose wonderfully melancholic fiction has haunted me over the last few years–ever since that CWA awards ceremony, in fact. Right after that event, I bought Indridason’s first English-translated novel, Jar City (aka Tainted Blood), to find out what all the fuss was about. It turned out to be one of the greatest police procedurals I’ve ever read. Jar City introduces a captivating trio of investigators, led by Reykjavik Detective Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson but also featuring criminology graduate Sigurdur Óli and policewoman Elínborg. In Jar City, those three go hunting for the murderer of an old man named Holberg. But the yarn is not as simple as that, because Holberg was an evil man, with a legacy of harming many people within his insular community. Jar City, I should note in passing, is also one of the saddest and bleakest novels I’ve ever read.

Indridason’s subsequent works–including Arctic Chill (2008), The Draining Lake (2007), and Voices (2006)–have been quite brilliant, too. But like my first kiss, I still recall Jar City most vividly and fondly. It is one of the few books that actually made me cry.

Ali also has done us the favor of pointing out an article on Icelandic crime fiction in the Iceland Review – some of which is available online. It notes that seven of ten most circulated books at the Icelandic national library are by Arnaldur Indridason.

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