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.
I have seen this authors books on various book bloggers sites, and thought it was about time I gave the Dark Iceland series a go. I have had this book a couple months now and have finally got to read it. So did I like it?
This is billed as a Nordic Noir, so I automatically expect certain things, and I admit to not being disappointed. Ari Thor is the main protagonist and the reader is taken on his journey from Reykjavik and his police training to a new two year post in the old fishing village of Siglufjorour at the north of the island. He leaves behind his girlfriend who is training to be a nurse. On arrival he finds that everyone knows of him, a village where most residents have been born and bred there.
Ari Thor’s story in the village begins in November 2008 through to the end of January 2009, though the Icelandic winter. The descriptions Ragnar has given of the village, residents and setting were good, but for me I really liked the way he used Ari Thor’s character to express how the dark, claustrophobia enveloped him. From these descriptions I could imagine what he was describing, from the long dark winter months in a snow locked village, Ari Thor is used to a city setting and has not experienced the isolation like this before.
The plot of the story itself feels basic but at the same time has quite a complex layout. As Ari Thor hunts for answers as well as getting to know the locals, he amasses his knowledge but the reader is not made aware of this until he starts putting the pieces together. He then shares his thoughts more completely through conversations with others. Along the way there are a couple of red-herrings, these provided the reader with a chance to think up the wrong route.
There are quite a few characters, and given my complete lack of knowledge regarding Icelandic names, I found that I quickly got to know the characters and soon recognised them, though I did have a notebook to hand to make a note of them and their roles. I took my time with this book, it was not a book I sat and read in one go, I do occasionally get books like this, it is almost like I need to read for a couple of hours and stop to digest. I didn’t find the book too be fast paced, it had some wonderful narrative regarding the area and the people. I think this made it a slower read, but I think this is more a setting up book, but it did speed up a little towards the end. This is a really good setting up book for the series that follows and I am expecting the next ones to be easier to read as I have a prior knowledge of cast and setting.
I would recommend this book for readers who like or are looking to read Nordic Noir, Crime, Mystery and Thriller genres. The atmospheric feel of the book has been very well done, with a really good story that hits all the right notes. After reading this first in the series, I have now ordered the next three, so this is my testament to how much I enjoyed this book, but I am also intrigued as to what comes next.
About the Author:
His debut Snowblind, first in the Dark Iceland series, went to number one in the Amazon Kindle charts shortly after publication. The book was also a no. 1 Amazon Kindle bestseller in Australia. Snowblind has been a paperback bestseller in France.
Nightblind won the Dead Good Reader Award 2016 for Most Captivating Crime in Translation.
Snowblind was called a “classically crafted whodunit” by THE NEW YORK TIMES, and it was selected by The Independent as one of the best crime novels of 2015 in the UK.
Rights to the Dark Iceland series have been sold to UK, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Australia, Poland, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, Morocco, Portugal, Croatia, Armenia and Iceland.
Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he works as a writer and a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.
He is also the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir.
From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic.
Ragnar has also had short stories published internationally, including in the distinguished Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in the US, the first stories by an Icelandic author in that magazine.
He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik.
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