by Ragnar Jonasson
Siglufjorour: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. 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, Snowblind is a startling debut from an extraordinary new talent, taking Nordic Noir to soaring new heights.
Ari Thor is a former theology student turned police officer living in Reykjavik with his girlfriend. he is offered a position in Siglufjordur, a small, isolated fishing village in northern Iceland, where you could live for 20 years and still be considered an outsider if you weren’t born there.
Leaving his girlfriend behind, Ari Thor makes a new start. He is reliably informed by his colleague Tomas that nothing ever happens here. And it seems to be that way until the suspicious death of a local author occurs. Even so the local police force and townsfolk find it very difficult to believe this could be anything but an accident. But when a woman is found close to death in the snow, attitudes have to change.
Ari Thor is a brilliantly drawn character, very likeable and different to the usual police officer/detective character in that he is young and inexperienced. His personal life is in turmoil and his professional life isn’t much better. As an outsider he is given no respect and his opinions don’t matter. He is a police officer with no power. But when he starts putting pieces of the jigsaw together people have to start taking notice.
All the supporting characters have great depth in this closed circle crime book which is reminiscent of Agatha Christie with all the secrets and lies and the isolation of the suspects. This is a brooding, atmospheric book; with the darkness and constant snow there is a claustrophobic feel to everything, which is heightened to the nth degree when there is an avalanche and the one road in and out of the village is blocked.
Despite all the darkness, Iceland comes across beautifully and the descriptions of Siglufjordur had me scampering to the computer to google images of the place which is now on my wishlist of places to visit.
A quick mention has to go to Quentin Bates who has done a brilliant job translating this book from Icelandic to English.
Snowblind is the first novel in a new series and is published by Orenda books. It is fabulous and I am looking forward to the next one.
Many thanks to karen at Orenda books for sending me a copy.