Today I’m reviewing the final book in the Dark Iceland series. Some of the other books have been reviewed on the blog previously.
Many thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for having me on the tour and sending me a copy of the book to review.
The Book: Easter weekend is approaching, and snow is gently falling in Siglufjörður, the northernmost town in Iceland, as crowds of tourists arrive to visit the majestic ski slopes. Ari Thór Arason is now a police inspector, but he’s separated from his girlfriend, who lives in Sweden with their three-year-old son. A family reunion is planned for the holiday, but a violent blizzard is threatening and there is an unsettling chill in the air.
Three days before Easter, a nineteen-year-old local girl falls to her death from the balcony of a house on the main street. A perplexing entry in her diary suggests that this may not be an accident, and when an old man in a local nursing home writes ‘She was murdered’ again and again on the wall of his room, there is every suggestion that something more sinister lies at the heart of her death…
As the extreme weather closes in, cutting the power and access to Siglufjörður, Ari Thór must piece together the puzzle to reveal a horrible truth … one that will leave no one unscathed.
The Review: I’ve loved the previous Ari Thor books I’ve read so I was excited to read this one, the final installment in the series.
Siglufjörður has changed since the last book I read, there’s a second access road so it’s more accessible and there are more tourists so it gives the impression of being quite different from the first books, but it’s not all as different as it seems. We meet up with Ari Thor again who has moved on to being Inspector and has a new recruit of his own.
There’s two sides to this story, one is the death of the young woman and the writing on the wall from the man in the nursing home, and the other is Ari Thor’s personal life. He seems to have been a bit more focused on himself than I remember him being in the past, and comments on being stuck where he is and not sure what path his future should take. It’s understandable that he would consider his future, everyone does at some point in their lives but I also got the impression that his personal life was more important than the police work. It felt as if his job was a hindrance to him, at times.
The investigation itself was good. I liked the way that Ari kept investigating even though the outcome seemed obvious. He used the same methods as before, honed from years of use, and was methodical again, something which I always associate with him. I also liked the almost side investigation, it added a little something to the story. The whole thing kept me reading, I wanted to know what everything meant and where it had stemmed from. I would have liked to have a bit more of an ending though, there was more I wanted to know than what was covered. I felt the ending was a bit rushed and again, Ari was focussed more on his personal life, but it did at least give us an idea of where that might be heading for him.
Aside from that Siglufjörður hasn’t changed as much as it first appears. It’s still a small town where people mostly know each other, even if only in passing. As happened, in the first book I believe, the weather plays a part in affecting the investigation and also in bringing back that feeling of claustrophobia that was so prevalent before. Once again I really got a sense of being stuck, feeling stuck and the eerie feeling that came from that and the blackout as well. Siglufjörður still comes across as a place that you have to be well prepared for if you decide to visit.
If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous books you’ll likely enjoy this one too. If you don’t know the series, this is not one you can read as a stand alone. Much as I enjoyed spending time with Ari in Siglufjörður I feel we’ve gone as far as we can with him and I look forward to seeing what Ragnar Jonasson writes next.
Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavík, and currently works as a lawyer, while teaching 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 2015 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.