Set in 1973, the book begins with the discovery of Jacob Kieler, who has been found shot dead in his museum-like home in Reykjavík. Strangely, it transpires that his father, also named Jacob Kieler, was also found shot in the same room 30 years earlier. So who is the killer and why have they been targeted?
This is an ambitious book told from the perspectives of the various police offers investigating the case. Interspersed are diary entries from Jacob senior, who kept diaries for over 30 years. Anyone who has ever wondered why there are no trains in Iceland will love the details of Jacob senior’s life, which revolved around engineering and trying to bring the railroad to Iceland. This vision brought him to Germany and plans were on the point of fruition when WWI broke out. His brother Matthias visited him there and is still alive, but a little secretive about the past.
Jacob junior has preserved the family history well and ended up living frugally in a house full of artifacts. Why would he have any enemies and what happened to Matthias in WWII when he went to visit Jacob senior?
If this all sounds a little complicated, it is. The book that covers a lot of ground and sometimes features unnecessary details. It’s also a book that will probably appeal more to men than women in terms of the engineering and railroad side. There are many characters, some of whom you would like to see developed a bit more.
This book is really more of a mystery than I thought it would be from reading the cover, and having been written in 1998, is not just jumping on the Nordic crime bandwagon.
I liked the fact that it was set in 1973 as it makes some of the plot more interesting and is the only way it could incorporate the WWII storyline.
I’ll be reading Ingolfsson’s The Flatey Engima next and will be interested to compare the two books.