Today it’s over to Mandie who is starting her Ari Thór adventures with book one in Ragnar Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series, Snow Blind. What better way to start thinking about the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokafloð, the tradition of book gifting on Christmas Eve, than with some brilliant Icelandic crime fiction? If you would like to know what I think (I love it) you can read my review here. Read on to find out more about the book.
About the Book
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.
Taut and terrifying, Snowblind is a startling debut from an extraordinary new talent, taking Nordic Noir to soaring new heights.
This is the first in the Dark Iceland series where we get to meet Ari Thór Arason just as he has been offered his first job in the police force in Siglufjörður, a quiet fishing village in northern Iceland. Whilst he is quite excited about it his girlfriend Kristin is not. After all he took the job without discussing it with her and she can’t just uproot herself from her job to move with him. As is often the way on small remote places everyone knows everyone, so Ari Thór finds himself very much the outsider and struggles to settle in. He had been told that nothing ever really happened there, but this was a statement that soon proved to be not quite true.
Ari Thór is a bit of an odd character who is hard to read to begin with. He has never been quite sure what he wants to do with his life and seems to have settled on Police Officer. He wants to be with Kristin, yet he feels let down by her initial reaction to his job, not seeing it from her viewpoint or even believing that he handled the situation badly. He has a determination to be good at what he does but is sometimes frustrated by the small village mentality that he is faced with. When the local celebrity is found dead outside the theatre Ari Thór’s boss is determined to wrap it up quickly as just an accident even though he wants to dig deeper into what happened. After all no one that lives in Siglufjörður is capable of such acts. This is a place where no one feels the need to lock their doors. It is only when the body of another local resident is found in their garden stabbed do the police really start to look into what is going on. There is also another thread throughout the book, and it is not until the end that all is revealed as to how it fits into the present day.
Ragnar Jónasson has managed to convey the feeling of isolation of this remote community through Ari Thór’s dreams and his own feeling of claustrophobia. The fact that there is only one way in and one way out that can be cut off at moment’s notice due to bad weather does nothing to dispel the feeling. The slow pacing of the book enables the tension to build and although you may begin the book thinking that nothing will happen by the end your opinions will be changed just as the lives of some of the residents of Siglufjörður are. Having come to this series late (as in all the books are now published) it does mean that I don’t have to wait to get stuck into the next book in the series to find out what is in store for Ari Thór and to see if he finally starts to settle into village life and his job.
About the Author
Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavík, and currently works as a lawyer, while teacher copyright law at the Reykjavík University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated fourteen Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavík, and is co-founder of the International crime-writing festival Iceland Noir. Ragnar’s debut thriller, Snowblind became an almost instant bestseller when it was published in June 2015n with Nightblind (winner of the Dead Good Reads Most Captivating Crime in Translation Award) and then Blackout, Rupture and Whiteout following soon after. To date, Ragnar Jónasson has written five novels in the Dark Iceland series, which has been optioned for TV by On the Corner. He lives in Reykjavík with his wife and two daughters.
Books by Ragnar Jónasson
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