Tainted Blood by Arnaldur Indridason (Shane's book 33, 2009)

This Icelandic detective novel is the third in a series starring Inspector Erlendur, however, it was the first one to be published in the UK. To further add to the confusion, it's also available under the title Jar City, which was also the name of the film based on the book. [amtap book:isbn=0099461633]

Erlendur is investigating the murder of an elderly man, found dead in his flat with a cryptic note left on his body. Were it not for the note, it would appear to be a burglary gone wrong. Some of Erlendur's colleagues suspect burglary anyway but Erlendur knows better and finds a link between the man and the death of a young child 40 years earlier.

And so we're plunged into a mystery that centres on a crime committed many years earlier and a lethal genetic abnormality running through a community. Like all good fictional detectives, Erlendur is divorced and while he doesn't have a drink problem, he does eat badly and barely sleeps. He also has a drug-addicted daughter who turns up here pregnant and trying to kick her habit.

Through his daughter Erlendur is drawn into a subplot about a bride who has disappeared on her wedding day. While the subplot is thematically relevant to the novel - family secrets, that kind of thing - Indridason doesn't do much with it and gives it a perfunctory resolution.

The writing is sparse and reads strangely at times - I'm not sure whether that's a product of the translation or not. Indridason has a dry sense of humour, for example he carefully avoids specifying whether Marion Briem - who provides Erlendur with a couple of tips - is a man or a woman.

Apart from the unusual genetics plot, this is a fairly straightforward detective novel. Erlendur methodically works his way to a solution but has a healthy dose of intuition and the requisite disrespect for authority. It's not a bad book but it is an unremarkable one. I don't plan to read any more of the series.