Book Review: Snowblind (Dark Iceland #1) by Ragnar Jónasson

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 15th June 2015 [Paperback]

Source:  My own purchased copy

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snowblind-by-ragnar-jonassonSnowblind is our introduction to the authentic and changeable atmosphere of the Dark Iceland series with chief characters you can’t help but warm to, despite the extreme weather conditions and their colossal indiscretions.

So here we are. Siglufjörður, Iceland, in 2008. A single tunnel leading in and out may isolate the town but fails to protect it from the unseen jeopardies that lie ahead.

Ari Thór Arason is a new police officer from Reykjavik who accepts a position at the small police station in Siglufjörður, much to the surprise of his long term girlfriend Kristin as he didn’t discuss the move with her first. She remains in the South, he moves north until the frostiness of their relationship feels right at home during the dark days and oppressive nights of an Icelandic winter that seeks to smother Ari Thór with despair. With both of them possessing frustrating stubborn streaks it threatens to cancel out rare opportunities to resolve matters between them.

Ari Thór is convinced he has to take this rare career opportunity, as the current financial crisis doesn’t present that many. He is welcomed by the inspector, Tómas, and gets to know the locals, or rather the locals single out newcomers on sight and irritatingly refer to him as The Reverend, a reference to his abandoned theological studies before joining the police.

“Ah, we don’t lock our doors here,” the inspector bellows at the new recruit. That throw away comment would seem rather quaint if a semi-naked woman hadn’t been discovered in a pool of blood, there was trouble at the local drama group where someone fell to their death, and a break-in threatens to undermine the close community feel Ari Thór was led to believe existed in these parts. It leaves him pondering what he’s let himself in for.

As an outsider, Ari Thór has no previous connection to the victim or the witnesses and can remain impartial during his questioning. In stark contrast Tómas is either related to someone and knows everybody. Ari Thór doesn’t want to embark on character assassination but history is clouding the investigation but he has to watch his step with his boss. Tómas’s mantra of “try not to upset the locals, it’s a small town” doesn’t mean these people aren’t capable of being merciless and simply keep it under their thermal hats.

The graceful word skill in Snowblind is exceptionally soothing, it’s as though you’re listening to an interesting stranger recounting a story of cosy Icelandic life that’s been tainted by some rather dreadful occurrences. Everyday realism is performed on a majestic stage with the most striking backdrop, allowing interludes of drama to disturb the tranquillity when the cast least expect it.

Rating: 5/5

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik – with a past that he’s unable to leave behind. When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life.

An avalanche and unremitting snowstorms close the mountain pass, and the 24-hour darkness threatens to push Ari over the edge, as curtains begin to twitch, and his investigation becomes increasingly complex, chilling and personal. Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust ever deeper into his own darkness – blinded by snow, and with a killer on the loose. Taut and terrifying, Snowblind is a startling debut from an extraordinary new talent, taking Nordic Noir to soaring new heights.

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snow-blind-author-profile

(Courtesy of Amazon UK. Author photograph courtesy of Publisher)

ragnar-jonasson-author-photographRagnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after publication, and Nightblind has sold over 3000 copies in advance of publication.

Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he works as a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

Ragnar is a member of the UK Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) and set up its first overseas chapter in Reykjavik. He is also the co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.

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