Thursday, October 26, 2017

Review: Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson

Title: Snowblind
Author: Ragnar Jonasson
Series: Dark Iceland, #1
Published: June 2015, Orenda Books
Format: Paperback, 252 pages
Source: Personal copy

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.

My thoughts: So, once again, I am coming to a series late in the game, though I have had the first 4 books sitting on my shelf for quite some time. And I actually had the opportunity to meet Ragnar Jonasson back in the late winter when he came to the US to talk about the series with fellow Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurdardottir and Danish author Sara Blaedel. But it wasn't until I was heading to Iceland myself that I finally decided I needed to start this series...and let me tell you - while it is a dark, twisty book, it's really good!

First off, I love Ari Thor! And just a little side note, it doesn't hurt that my last name happens to be Thorvaldsen and we use "Thor" whenever we make reservations, so of course, I was already in love with the name...but luckily, the character himself is worthy of having this crush! And sticking with names used - at the beginning of the book, we are introduced to Ari Thor's girlfriend's Kristin - well, another coincidence or not, but that is my name. I'm telling you - this book just has my name written all over it - no pun intended!!!

I loved the way this book was set up. First, we get a good sense of the characters and who they are. As the first in a series - and one of the reasons why I love reading series! - I think this is crucial. We need to know who the central characters are going to be, who we are going to be dealing with for most of the series. We learn a fair bit about Ari Thor - who he is and what he is all about. We learn a bit about Reykjavik and Siglufjorour - the two central settings for this book - and let me tell you, there are times when Siglufjorour feels like it is a character itself! 

Once that is all done, then we get into the meat of the story - the crime and what a twisty, good ride that was! This isn't necessarily an edge-of-your-seat thriller, but rather a classic mystery that will keep you captivated until it is solved. Between the mystery and then the weather - how isolating it can be up there is Northern Iceland in the middle of the winter - I found myself really feeling the suspense and tension that Ragnar Jonasson had created. This certainly is an atmospheric read, for sure! You can feel the bone-numbing chill as you are reading, feeling the desperation of the characters with each new snowfall and snowstorm.

I cannot wait to continue with this series and luckily I already have the next few books already sitting on my shelves just waiting for me to find the time!

Books in this series:
  1. Snowblind
  2. Nightblind
  3. Black Out
  4. Rupture
  5. White Out - English translated version due out Nov 2017 

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