Tainted Blood


The novel Mýrin, translated to English by Bernard Scudder.
Also published by Vintage in London 2006 and W.F. Howes in Rearsby 2006.
First published in Great Britain in 2004 under the title Jar City by Harvill Press.

From Tainted Blood:

The words were written in pencil on a piece of paper placed on top of the body. Three words, incomprehensible to Erlendur.

It was the body of a man of about 70. He was lying on the floor on his right side, against the sofa in a small sitting room, wearing a blue shirt and fawn corduroy trousers. He wore slippers on his feet. His hair was starting to thin, almost completely grey. It was stained with blood from a large wound on his head. On the floor not far from the body was a big glass ashtray with sharp corners. It too was covered in blood. The coffee table had been overturned.

This was a basement flat in a two-storey house in Nordurmýri. It stood in a small garden enclosed on three sides by a stone wall. The trees had shed their leaves, which carpeted the garden and covered the ground, and the knotty branches stretched up towards the darkness of the sky. Along a gravel drive which led to the garage, Reykjavík CID were arriving on the scene. The District Medical Officer was expected, he would sign the death certificate. The body had been reported found about 15 minutes earlier. Erlendur, Detective Inspector with the Reykjavík police, was one of the first on the scene. He expected his colleague Sigurdur Óli any minute.

The October dusk spread over the city and the rain slapped around in the autumn wind. Someone had switched on a lamp which stood on a table in the sitting room and cast a gloomy light on the surroundings. In other respects nothing on the scene had been touched. The forensics team were setting up powerful flourescent lights on a tripod to illuminate the flat. Erlendur noticed a bookcase and a worn suite of furniture, the overturned coffee table, an old desk in one corner, a carped on the floor, blood on the carped. The sitting room opened into the kitchen and another door led from it to the den and on to a small corridor where there were two rooms and a toilet.