JAR CITY by Icelandic crime writer Arnaldur Indridason is sombre, clever, and extremely absorbing.
It’s a straight police procedural, involving a lead detective (Erlendur) who works on his instincts rather than simply following the obvious clues, and this sometimes frustrates of his colleagues. Like Wallander, he’s not an exciting or glamorous detective, and the whole setting (it rains throughout almost the entire book) is dour and underplayed, which, of course, is pretty much how many murder investigations would be if you described them flat, without verbal tricks or fancy scene-setting.
Indridason brings a very moving kind of humanity to the main character of Erlendur, and although you don’t fall in love with either him or his life (which seems dull and disappointing) you do admire him. The plot itself twists on a number of possible solutions, and there are several of those moments when you *know* the solution, and you’re inevitably wrong.
Despite the sombre mood, and the increasingly unsettling themes, the plot moves fast enough to give the reading experience excitement and urgency.