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3.8 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 16 May 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
On a cold January morning in 1973( is there ever any other kind in the Northern hemisphere ?), inside a foreboding old house in Reykjavik, Jacob Kieler Junior lies dying from a fatal gunshot wound to his chest. Detective Jóhann Pálsson, an expert in the emerging field of forensics, is called to the scene and soon discovers something more disconcerting than the murder itself. The deceased's father, Jacob Kieler Senior, a railroad engineer, was coincidentally shot to death in the same living room nearly thirty years earlier. The case was officially closed as a bungled robbery.
Pálsson rapidly uncovers diaries that portray Kieler Senior as an ambitious man dedicated to bringing the railroad to Iceland no matter the cost. Sensing a suspicious murkier mystery , the detective and his colleagues piece together .through the elder Kieler's diaries a family history rich with mendacity and deception.
Riding in somewhat on the coat-tails of the Nordic noir explosion House of Evidence none the less is an initially effective if rather tortuous read that starts off well but becomes flimsier and less enthralling as the narrative progresses.
If I may compare to a railway journey , as befit's a central plot point this is one where you are originally fascinated by the landscapes passing by but after a while realise that you are in fact looking at the same scene over and over again. Like the background in a Scooby Doo chase scene. Then all you want to do is find something else to divert your attention and pass the time. This book would in all likelihood not be on the preferred list.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 January 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a very good read, although you might feel that you've read similar and the ending is almost straight out of the The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (Collins Classics) (The problem of Thor Bridge), at least it's pretty similar. Set in the early seventies it provides a pretty bleak social commentary of Iceland of the time. It also gives a potted history of Icelands establishment as a republic after the separation from Denmark.

The use of parallel stories within the narrative is not unusual and occurs in Indridassons The Draining Lake: A Reykjavik Murder Mystery (Reykjavik Murder Mysteries 4), another Icelandic murder mystery. What makes this story different is that you're looking at almost identical crimes a generation apart happening to close family members. The interplay between the team investigating the murder is pretty standard fare these days with the team all having quirks and difficulties in their private lives that means the perspective and prejudice they bring to solving the case is based on the baggage they bring with them. Iceland appears to be the new Scandanavia in terms of dour bleak social commentary within its crime novels.

But, that said, this is a very good and elegantly translated novel that draws you in and keeps your attention. The characters have dimension and form and you can't help but want them to succeed. I would recommend this to any reader of Scandanavian/Icelandic crime/mystery/thriller novels.
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on 6 January 2013
No, no need for slander, libel or anything else - just an expression of disappointment. As with my fellow reviewers, the idea initially grabbed my attention, but in my case the pages seemed to grow heavier as the novel went on.

At first, I found the police procedural business quite interesting: I've never known the forensic Scene-Of-Crime boys followed in such detail! But with the interleaving of the victim's diaires, I began to smell the distinctly fishy odour of padding. The diary entries do effectively demonstrate the descent of a mind from enthusiasm, via obsession, to something like madness; but their sketchiness serves merely to tell when they should show - can't the author manage (or be bothered?) to realise his story more effectively?

It's no worse than OK, as my three stars indicate - but no better, either. I must take issue with at least one other reviewer here: this novel IN NO WAY approaches Larsson's Millenniium trilogy in readability, characterisation, theme, or any other quality I can think of. Except, perhaps, that there is quite a lot of snow involved.
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on 4 February 2014
I really love books that make you stop reading in order to look up something you don't know; in this case, what happened in Iceland during WW2. However, "House of Evidence" is in no way a dry tome overloaded with the author's research; on the contrary, it is a well-told murder mystery which, although taking its time, finally winds up into a brilliantly unexpected conclusion entirely consistent with everything that has gone before.

Although the plot - set in Iceland in 1972, but harking back to events in the first half of the twentieth century - is complex, nevertheless the author doesn't skimp on the characters. Far from being the cardboard stereotypes so often found in police procedural novels, the investigation team here are portrayed as individuals, and we have glimpses of insight into their frustrations and their triumphs. And the Kieler family, past and present, are fascinating; when I re-read this book, as I know I shall, I sense there is far more to learn of the enigmatic Elizabeth, and the true native of Jacob Senior's mental condition.

Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a complex, mysterious and ultimately very satisfying read in an unfamiliar setting.
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on 6 February 2014
I have not got into the whole Scandinavian crime novel craze, but this one was interesting because of its low-key approach to the people, to the actual detective work (not awfully CSI), and because it gave me the feeling that I was getting some Icelandic ambience (without really having a clue, never having been there). It only felt like a translation on a few occasions, so it was, overall, a good read.
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VINE VOICEon 10 December 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
All books Scandanavian must be worthy of our interest or, at least Amazon think so. This book was first published in 1998 and only now comes before us in English. In fact, it's not half bad.

I read and enjoyed another of the author's books, "The Flatey Enigma" which impressed me with the way the story was constructed.

This, then, is almost as good. Perhaps it rambles a little here and there but since the story is set in Iceland in 1973, the fact that it has just been translated is no detriment. There is a back story, too, in the form of a series of diaries written by a man who was the father of the victim we meet in chapter one, a bullet in his chest, bleeding his life away on the parlour floor.

And so begins a murder hunt, compounded by the fact that the man's father was found dead in exactly the same manner in 1945.

This is very much a police procedural. Clues are sparse, potential suspects are soon eliminated and, although the main story gathers pace slowly, there is much in the recounting of the diaries which interests the reader.

World War II has its inevitable fall out which, as far as this story is concerned, affects the chances of our main protagonist ever building a railway in Iceland. But there is so much more lying hidden in and amongst both stories.

The author recreates the atmosphere well, Iceland in 1973 seems to have stretched much further back than I remember England in that year. Events move slowly and yet the author manages to keep the interest flowing with snippets here, possible clues there, all of which come to nothing until the very end of the book. Just as it should be in a good whodunit and don't overlook the author's notes at the end of the book. I normally give up half way through when we find the author thanking his hamster for keeping the wheels turning but in this case, it does explain the very last paragraph of the book - and you need to know if you're in the least bit curious.

One final comment about the translation. Both of the translators are either English or fluent in English and I have no gripe about that. The translation is excellent except, here we are again with this ghastly Americanism `gotten' which does not feature in English (pardon my pedant friends who remind me of ill-gotten gains but this is old English). I blame the editor or maybe the proof reader but, either way, I was taught never to use get or nice so gotten is nicely irritating and spoils the flow of the reading - well, for me, anyway.
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This book should be boring as it intersperses the diaries of a murdered man who was fanatical about building a railway and the similar murder of his son 30 years later but it's not. Ok, I skipped a lot of the technical railway stuff as I didn't really understand it so it was boring but it serves a purpose. It makes us understand the obsession Jacob senior had with building a railway in Iceland. The police investigation into Jacob junior's similar death is compulsive. There is no high octane action just more information discovered on every page which inexorably builds up to the solution. I found it hard to put this book down as I wanted to know what was coming next. This book is well plotted, well written/translated and the characters are very lifelike, to the extent that not all of them are happy in their jobs (not something you read about often in police procedurals). The book is also the study of obsession and the consequences it can have on other people. I recommend this book.
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on 28 November 2014
Very interesting to come across something different, written by people who live the difference. Well written and , while not a page turner in the strict sense of the word, keeps you wanting to know what happens. Would read more. Read through kindle unlimited.
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VINE VOICEon 8 March 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the second book I have read by Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson - The Flatey Engima being the first - they are quite different - I have enjoyed both of them.

The book is set in Iceland and starts in 1973 with the death of Jacob Keiler Jr from gunshot wounds in his home - nearly 30 years earlier his father was also found shot, in the same room, in the same house - a crime which was never solved.

The story is told in the 70s with the police trying to discover what happens - this is interwoven with the diaries of Jacob Keiler Snr. from the early 20th century.

The pace is slow - this is not a violent fast paced thriller - but the story is very interesting and although one sort of guesses what happened, it is the how and why we do not discover till the end.
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on 10 May 2013
This is a most satisfying and enjoyable book! It is a tremendously good read and will keep you in suspense right to the end, with a surprise on the very last page. An eccentric man is found shot dead in the house he has lived in all his life and which he has turned into a museum to his family. He is alone and there is no sign of a weapon... the typical start of a crime novel, but this is not a typical novel. It is set i Iceland and the truth behind what happened and why lies in the victim's father's diaries which chart his attempts to bring railways to Iceland.
This book is a real page-turner, but is also informative and interesting about a variety of different themes, including the war and Iceland becoming a republic. I thoroughly recommend it, and other books by Ingólfsson
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