A slow burning Nordic Noir, Snowblind is a well written and fascinating opening to a promising series.
Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson
Genres: Mystery, Crime, Nordic Noir
Published: 20th April, 2015
Series: Dark Iceland #1
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.
Dark, cold and unforgiving. That’s winter for you in Siglufjörður. I want to go ahead and say it: other parts of Iceland don’t seem that much more inviting either during this time of the year, but this little town is an even worse position, being all snowed in and cut off from the rest of the world.
This is where Ari Thor moves from one day to another, after getting a job offer. Leaving his girlfriend behind in Reykjavik, he sets out on a new adventure in this tiny town, that is more like a tight knit community with its 1300 inhabitants. If being the new guy, the outsider, is not difficult enough, he soon finds himself emotionally entangled with lovely Ugla (what a name, oh dear…). When a simple accident turns out to be something more than that, and a half naked woman is discovered bleeding onto the pristine snow, Ari Thor realizes this place is not as peaceful and boring as he first thought.
Some of the residents hide decade old secrets, others are not what they seem, and while the local sergeant seems to be blind to the obvious, Ari Thor sets out on his own to untangle the mystery, even if it’s against his boss’ plan. Who can he trust? Who has a hidden agenda?
Neither of the crimes are particularly gruesome, but the constant darkness and the feeling of claustrophobia is almost overwhelming. Ari Thor was such an interesting fella. Before becoming a police officer, he studied theology, not because he was religious, quite the opposite.
“He reckoned he had probably applied for theology as a challenge to some god he was convinced didn’t exist; some god who had snatched away any chance he had of growing up normally when he was thirteen, when his mother died and his father had disappeared without trace.”
His gentle and open manner soon earned him the nickname The Reverend among the townsfolk, and his interactions with the community painted a clear picture of a kind and caring person. His emotional turmoil over his girlfriend who seemed cold and distant was painful to watch, but came across genuine and relatable.
A captivating small town mystery, Snowblind will transport you into atmospheric Siglufjörður before you know it.