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.
Sometimes starting off a new series is like going along to your very first book event – you know you are going to something you have an interest in and that there’s bound to be something there to engage you – but you still feel nervous – what if you don’t connect with anyone, what if you are bored, what if you made the wrong choice? Well I finally took the plunge and #PoppedMyNordicNoirCherry and as with every new series I start – I approached feeling nervous….I needn’t have #WOW why did I wait so long and boy am I glad that I started with Ragnar Jonasson and #SnowBlind
If you are looking for a fast paced, whambam in your face read then this book may not be for you (however don’t be writing it off because of that – sometimes slowing down the pace can be just as chilling you know!). The book centres round Ari Thor Arason, a new policeman and his posting in a small and isolated Icelandic town, where he is assured that “nothing ever happens” Within a short time, however, Ari Thor finds himself caught up in two major investigations and in a town where everyone is connected and Ari Thor is the outsider then that isn’t going to be easy!
Snowblind evokes not only a sense of place geographically but also the very mood of the place; I have never been to Iceland before (other than a short stopover on the flight to Canada) but immediately I felt as though Ragnar had picked me up and dropped me into the pages of the story and me smack bang into the middle of Siglufjörður such was my sense of actually being there. I felt Ari Thor’s sense of claustrophobia as the weather took over, I could smell the snow as it wrapped the village up in its clutches and the panic when the avalanche came and the roads out were blocked – hell I got so cold reading it, I had to turn up my heating a notch or two!
There was something so creepy about the village, the permanent darkness, the harsh elements and just that feeling that there was somebody watching from behind their curtains at every move you take, a village where everyone is connected and everybody knows everyone else but at the same time a village with so many dark secrets. The secrets that unfolded ensured that I was kept guessing throughout the book and kept me engaged until the very end. My only problem with connecting was pronunciation of the names which meant it took me a little longer to remember who was who and where was where (but that’s not a criticism rather a reflection on my knowledge and my need to be able to say things in my head when reading!)
Ragnar has played an absolute blinder with character development here, I can visualise the main characters in my head and felt a connection with them. As a reader I felt as though I got to know Ari Thor so well, Ragnar brought him alive with his words and description, he is struggling with his move up North and his feelings for the girlfriend he left behind and faces the difficulty of being the newcomer in such a close-knit village – I could feel his angst, his isolation and his struggles so clearly throughout the book and I cannot wait to read more about this intriguing detective.
So if you are wondering whether or not to take that first step into something new then I’d say go on give it a go! Snowblind is atmospheric, chilling and will wrap its icy fingers around your heart, a beautifully written crime novel that is an excellent start to a new series!
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