Author: Ragnar Jónasson
Number of Pages: 300 (E-Book)
Published: 20th April 2015 by Orenda Books
Genre: Mystery, Crime
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. Taut and terrifying, Snowblind is a startling debut from an extraordinary new talent, taking Nordic Noir to soaring new heights. – from Goodreads
In the remote Icelandic town of Siglufjörður nothing much usually happens. The approach to Siglufjörður shows central character Ari Thor travelling through a tunnel cut into the mountain. In that small enclosed space he experiences the first feelings of claustrophobia, and that really sets the tone for the rest of the novel. I really like the setting of this tale, the remote, isolated small town, closed in by the mountains, closed off when the snow wreaks havoc.
Siglufjörður sounds idyllic in a way, but there’s also a smothering sense, both from the harsh climate and the fact that Ari Thor is ‘an outsider’. In this small community everyone knows everyone else, which seems to make them naturally cautious of someone new. All this serves to increase the sense of claustrophobia experienced by Ari Thor. He is young, just completing his police training, and has taken the job for the benefit of his career, leaving his girlfriend behind, and their communication becomes sparse as the story progresses.
He goes to his new ‘home‘, a place where no on initially locks their doors (but all that may change). It’s so quiet it’s almost oppressive but there is also something quite romantic about the whole setting and atmosphere.
A man is found dead, the result of a tragic accident, or so people seem happy to believe, but Ari Thor wonders if there is more to it. In a separate incident a woman is found wounded and close to dying outside in the snow. And so things change in this quiet town where nothing usually happens, and Ari Thor is at the centre of the action.
Snowblind isn’t a high-action story, but doesn’t suffer for that. It is an engaging crime story set in a wonderfully created community with a host of characters, several of whom have secrets of their own.