Review: Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson

Snowblind (Dark Iceland)

Blurb: 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.

My Rating: 5/5

Review: Ok, so I realise I’m a little late in discovering this book and I admit I read it a few weeks ago and due to personal stuff haven’t been able to write a review till now, however I think both of those things have worked in my favour. I saw the clamour and rave reviews about Nightblind (book 2) months ago but wasn’t in a position to read it then and, in any case, I wanted to read Snowblind first so it took a while for me to get round to discovering Icelandic crime.

As you can tell from my rating I loved this book. I was a bit dubious to start with because it is different from the usual police procedurals that I read but the writing hooked me and slowly drew me into this unfamiliar snowy land where things are similar but different from what I know.  I know, for instance, what it’s like to have 15/16 hours of darkness every day during winter so I had some idea of how Ari Thor felt in that respect but I don’t live somewhere with mountains dominating the view, almost constant snow, or the only road to anywhere else being closed. However, due to the excellent writing I felt Ari Thor’s claustrophobia and anxiety as he experienced these.  I think I would have felt them even more had I not read this book in the spring so I’m considering keeping Nightblind for a few more months to experience the full power of the environment.

On the whole I liked the characters in the book even though I disagreed with a few of their decisions, especially some of  Ari Thor’s but I think that is more down to his lack of life experience than anything else and that can change in time.  I liked the way his character developed and grew over the course of the book and I’m looking forward to watching that progress further in Nightblind.  What struck me most about him was that he asked questions and took on board the answers, despite everything he learned he never assumed anything, and the quiet cleverness that he has definitely makes him stand out from other fictional police detectives.

There are lots of little stories intertwined in this book.  It never rushes you but takes you through everything at a pace that is easy to follow but also draws you in until you have no choice but to continue reading because it feels as if the rest of the world has ceased to exist.  I found when I was reading that I lost track of things, I was reading when it was daylight yet upon looking up from the book I was always momentarily confused at seeing bright skies and no snow.  The mysteries themselves are laid out in such a way that you guess, you wonder if perhaps it was him, maybe when they did that he….but maybe not….perhaps it was her instead…..what does that mean…..wait a minute!…..no, that’s not right either…..I like her, I hope it wasn’t her……oh, this interesting!…..and on it goes, page after page of thoughts like those, constantly questioning and wondering and waiting for Ari Thor to figure out because somehow you know he will.

It’s fair to say that this won’t be to everyone’s taste, some people won’t like the pace or the writing style or various other things but if you like crime fiction this is definitely worth a try and who knows, you might love it!

 

Both Snowblind and Nightblind are out now in paperback and kindle and a third book, Blackout is out soon.

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