Snow Blind (Dark Iceland) – Ragnar Jonasson
Ari Thor 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, Snow Blind is a startling debut from an extraordinary new talent, taking Nordic Noir to soaring new heights.
My thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for my review copy.
Snow Blind – a masterclass in scene setting and subtle tension building. Siglufjorour is brilliantly depicted, the town and its inhabitants are vividly recreated by Ragnar Jonasson and the hero, Ari Thor, is a likeable yet vulnerable lead character.
Nothing happens in sleepy Siglufjorour yet Ari Thor decides the opportunity to develop his career in this remote coastal town is too good an opportunity to pass up. He leaves his life (and girlfriend) in Reykjavik and we follow his attempts to adjust to the slower pace of life in Siglufjorour – any resident of a small town will be able to relate to Ari Thor’s new environment.
The good news for the reader is that the tranquility is soon to be shattered – a death in the community and before long secrets are unearthed. Suspicion shifts around the town and Ari Thor soon learns that his tranquil new home is not the idyllic haven he initially believed.
Investigations commence and soon Ari Thor finds that being an outsider in a small community will put him at a distinct disadvantage. Friends close ranks and his ‘big city’ approach is not going to work amongst neighbours who have lived in each other’s pockets all their life. Ari Thor does have an ally in the form of his piano teacher – a young woman who also sought out the solitude of Siglufjorour -but what secrets has she left behind from her past life?
I really enjoyed Snow Blind. The story unfolds at a pace consistent with life in Siglufjorour – there is plenty going on but you know there is no rush to the end. You are confident that everything will come good and all will become clear. Why hurry through when the journey is so pleasant?
Where Agatha Christie created a murder mystery with a small suspect pool on a fast moving train or within a large country house, Ragnar Jonasson creates the same feel in a whole town. I hope to have the chance to read more of Ari Thor in future. Snow Blind is a welcome and fresh addition to our book shelves.
Snow Blind is published by Orenda Books and is available now in both paperback and digital formats.
Ragnar Jonasson is on Twitter: @ragnarjo
And at ragnarjonasson.com