Book reviews by country: Iceland

For my series this summer, I am providing selections of book reviews by country. Either the author is from the country named in the post, or the book is set there.


Iceland is bound to feature quite a few reviews, given my interest in crime fiction. Of the seven books I've reviewed from that country, four are by Arnandur Indridason (Voices, The Draining Lake, Arctic Chill and Hypothermia). I read Jar City very early on in my blogging days, but though I noted it I did not review it as at that time I was not very confident at the prospect of reviewing books. I've also read, but did not review, the second novel in the series (going by translated – there are two before Jar City not yet translated), Silence of the Grave. All are brilliant: this is a great series to recommend to anyone thinking of trying crime fiction. The first several are translated by the late Bernard Scudder, and the recent ones by Victoria Cribb. Arnaldur Indridason wins many awards for his writing, and deservedly so. 

Of the remaining books, two are by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, another Icelandic author I highly recommend for her highly acute observational talents, her great plots and her biting sense of humour. My final title is set in Iceland but by an English author: Where the Shadows Lie by Michael Ridpath. It's a highly readable novel and a rather interesting perspective on the country if you have read the novels by the native authors Indridason and Sigurdardottir (which, in case you haven't noticed, I strongly recommend that you do!).

My Iceland reviews.

8 thoughts on “Book reviews by country: Iceland

  1. Oh my gosh–this photo is amazing; I want to rush out to grab the first plane to Iceland. I have read 6 of the 7 books–the 4 by Indridason and also “The Silence of the Grave,” which is about domestic violence and is also excellent; and the two by Sigurdardottir which I like much. And I will read the Ridpath. I’m convinced.

  2. Jar City is my current lunchtime reading, and so far very good; I’ve got The Draining Lake at home, up next. The bleak, rainy setting of the novel is soothing at the moment, as it’s unrelentingly bright, hot, and horrible here in Texas. I can’t help thinking that Icelandic phone books/directories must be a nightmare.

  3. Thank you, Barn Owl – I do enjoy thinking of you, eating your lunch and reading gloomy, cold fiction! I am currently on The Man in the Window by K. O. Dahl (Norway) – very enjoyable in the same kind of way at the moment. I think their phone directories are probably a bit easier than Icelandic as you say.
    I’d be interested to know what you make, as a scientist, about the plot of Jar City. I think it was scientifically flawed, from memory. Maybe you’ll write a blog post on the science of Indridason 😉

  4. Ooh, now I’m intrigued, Maxine … I will definitely pay attention to the scientific details of Jar City (and other Indridason novels as well).
    I’m also reading “The Girl Who Played with Fire” (I know, I’m woefully behind), and felt rather embarrassed that I had a mental picture of almost every Ikea product that Salander purchased for her flat.

  5. I’ve seen some criticism, and parody, of Larsson for his lists of brand names!
    On Jar City, what specifically I’d be interested in knowing is what you think of the “double blind” aspect of the plot. I’ll say no more in case of spoilers, but perhaps we can reconvene when you have finished it!

  6. I’m not yet very far into Jar City, but I did notice that the child Audur appeared to have had neurofibromatosis type 1, the disorder that I have spent much of my research career working on (developed and characterized two mouse models). Don’t know whether it matters for the plot at all, however – just interesting that the characteristics are mentioned with sufficient detail to be instantly recognized.

  7. Oh, that is fascinating. I do hope you write a post on it, now- as you’ll definitely be in a good position to assess its scientific and medical accuracy (as well as that plot flaw I think I identified).

  8. Maxine, my post on the scientific/medical aspects of Jar City is up on my NN blog. Not sure I caught the “double blind” aspect of the plot, though.

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