Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson
Publisher: Orenda Books
Published Date: 25th June, 2015
Genre: Crime, Mystery
Rating: 4 / 5
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.
Snowblind is the first in the Dark Iceland series by Jónasson, where we are introduced to young policeman Ari Thór on his first placement in the remote Icelandic town of Siglufjörður. I have to be honest, the first thing that intrigued me about this book, and the entire series really, is the absolutely stunning covers. Perhaps this is wrong of me, but I have little shame in admitting that a bad cover will put me off a book. After all, my books take pride of place on various shelves in my home and so I want them to look good, and the Dark Iceland series has some of the best covers I have seen in a while! Orenda Books has done a fantastic job here and a big credit to them for making an unknown series catch my eye and draw me in on the first look.
The cover of Snowblind is a perfect representation of what you’ll find inside. A foggy, claustrophobic story, creeping deeper and deeper under your skin with every page, it is an absolutely sensational first book and I cannot recommend it enough! The atmosphere building and imagery is fantastic, Jónasson builds a truly vivid world which I found myself totally immersed in. Ari Thór’s sense of panic and claustrophobia was immensely palpable and I completely understood his feelings and fears in this new, distant town with a colourful cast of secretive strangers.
The only negative I found was that the ‘reveal’ was over a little too quickly, and I didn’t quite catch how Ari Thór worked all of it out. There were hints dropped along the way, as well as a fair few red herrings, which definitely left many paths open for the story to follow, however whilst I understood the majority of conclusions that Ari Thór came to, there were some things that just left me a little bit confused as to how he had found them out. Despite this, I was happy with the ending and it was left perfectly open for a sequel which I can’t wait to get into!
Snowblind is a fantastic addition to the Nordic Noir genre, and Jónasson is certainly up there with Arnaldur Indriðason for Icelandic crime fiction. I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read, a perfect start to a new series to get stuck into over the summer.