Thursday, 5 March 2009

Icelandic crime

I'm not talking about profligate banking. Over Christmas I caught up on the books I won in the competition last year. Icelandic crime novels...

The film Jar City was quite decent. The book it was based on (Tainted Blood by Arnaldur Indridason) had, surprisingly, a less interesting plot, largely because the tension wasn’t built or maintained properly. Unfortunately books 2-4 in the series are not really any better. Indriadson seems to be following a formula for the architecture – take one old mystery, interweave it with the detectives chatting to people about it, dovetail the plots, bathetic finale. No detection seems to take place, people confess at random, and realism is really strained at times.

That said, learning a little about Iceland is interesting, and the 4th book, about Cold War shenanigans up north, is particularly poignant. The 5th book in the series is an improvement. Again, little by way of detection – perhaps that simply reflects reality – but a more satisfying story and a truly “Icelandic murder”, which according to Indriadason involve no planning or sophistication, plenty of impulse and stupidity, some brutality and some mess.