By Ragnar Jonasson
Twice Ari Thór Arason asks himself, “What have I gotten myself into?”
The first time was when his new boss Police Chief Tómas tells him nothing ever happens in Siglufjörður, a small town in Iceland close to the Arctic Circle, pinched between the sea and imposing mountains.
But his boss, it turns out, was wrong. Siglufjörður’s most famous resident, Hrólfur Kristjánsson, an internationally known writer, takes a fatal tumble down a flight of stairs in the theater where the local dramatic society is rehearsing a play.
The next time Ari asks the question, a woman’s half-naked and bloody body has been found in the snow.
Just finishing up his training at the Police Academy, Ari has left his girlfriend behind in Reykjavik and finds himself lost and alone in the idyllic fishing village. A series of snowstorms and avalanches trap residents in the village. The unrelenting winter darkness gives Ari insomnia.
The one advantage his newness to the community gives him is clear eyes to observe and an open mind to ask questions long-time residents would evade.
Seeing how Kristjánsson’s body is found on his back at the bottom of the stairs, the smell of alcohol unmistakable, Ari suggests he may have been pushed.
“‘Don’t talk nonsense,’ Tómas barks. ‘No damned nonsense, young man.'”
But Ari keeps asking questions, the type that long-time residents don’t even give a second thought to. There are multiple mysteries here, making this an entertaining and suspenseful read. Ari’s youth, his complicated relationship with his girlfriend, a medical student, make this an auspicious beginning to a long series.
Much as a I liked this book, Jonasson’s mystery, THE DARKNESS, remains my favorite for its protagonist Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir and its inventive plot.
SNOWBLIND (2010) is the first book in Jonasson’s Dark Iceland mystery series. It was followed by:
- NIGHTBLIND (2014)
- BLACKOUT (2011)
- RUPTURE (2012)
- WHITEOUT (2013)
- WINTERKILL (2020)
About the Author: Ragnar Jonasson
From the age of 17, Ragnar Jonasson translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He is an award-winning and best-selling author. He is the co-founder of the Reykjavik International crime-writing festival, Iceland Noir.
In addition to the Dark Iceland series, Jonasson has written the Hidden Iceland Series, featuring Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir. The initial novel of this series, THE DARKNESS, turns the conventions of the murder mystery genre on its head.