A Book Spy Review: ‘Snowblind’ By Ragnar Jónasson

Ragnar Jónasson Snowblind.jpgSet in the frigid, snow-filled streets of a small Icelandic fishing town, Ari Thor Arason, a newly graduated police cadet, accepts his first job as part of a three-officer police force in Siglufjörður. Leaving behind his girlfriend and the comfort of big city life, he heads north to begin his new journey.  

Arriving in November, just before the sun will fall and stay hidden for two months, Ari Thor is assured by his new colleagues that the winter months aren’t too exciting. As it turns out, that couldn’t be further from the truth, at least this time around.  

The first instance came on Christmas Eve when Ari Thor received a phone call from someone seeking the police. All the caller said was “I think he’s going to hurt me,” before hanging up. Not sure what to make of the situation, Ari Thor called his superior, a veteran cop named Tomas. After hearing about the odd call, Tomas concluded that it was likely a prank. “Don’t worry about it,” were Tomas’ instructions, and Ari Thor follows orders–a decision that he would come to regret. 

Later, a dead body was found in the snow. The woman’s corpse had been carefully positioned, something Ari Thor and the other officers struggled to understand. Then in January, Hrolfur, the elder statesman of Siglufjörður, was killed inside the town’s theater. Hrolfur, a successful author, was said to have died during an accidental fall down a flight of stairs. It doesn’t take long for Ari Thor to realize something far more sinister happened than an accidental tumble, though, and he begins his investigation. 

Suddenly, a town where nothing ever happens during the dark winter months is rocked by a series of murders. 

As Ari Thor’s investigation plays out, he becomes increasingly restless in the small town where everyone knows each other. He misses Kristin, his girlfriend, and life in the big city. Just as he begins to feel slightly claustrophobic in Siglufjörður, he becomes trapped–literally. 

An avalanche closes the lone entry and exit to and from Siglufjörður. Only the small airstrip provides the possibility of escape, but no flights are scheduled for the dark winter months. After his initial uneasiness subsides, a new realization hits Ari Thor with avalanche-like force. Not only is he now trapped indefinitely in this small town, but he’s trapped there with a killer. 

What starts out feeling like a slow-burn mystery soon morphs into a heart-pounding crime novel–after about the first hundred pages–that features numerous twists and turns.

All the characters are well-developed, as Jónasson provides ample backstories for nearly everyone readers meet. And while Ari Thor is the star, the remote town of Siglufjörður plays an equally important role as the city takes on its own persona and breathes refreshing life into this darkened plot. 

Incredible depth, an easy-to-root-for main character, and a brilliant mystery make Snowblind a compelling read. Fans of whodunits and crime novels will appreciate  Jónasson’s attention to detail in this deftly plotted, chilling mystery. 

Book Details

Note: While Snowblind is technically the second novel in Ragnar Jónasson’s internationally bestselling series, it’s the first book translated into English–making it the starting place for American readers. 

Author: Ragnar Jónasson
Series: Dark Iceland
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1250096073
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: January 31, 2017 (Order Now!)

One comment

  1. Ryan,
    Just finished “Snow Blind”, my first venture into Nordic Noir and all I can say is “WOW” (how do you
    say that in Icelandic?) Cool, elegant writing style, meaningful character development, and the dark
    foreboding of being trapped with a killer loose in a remote Icelandic fishing village in the dead of winter
    all combine to make a story that you just can’t put down.
    (NB So interesting that the author has translated 14 Agatha Christie novels
    into Icelandic. His style is a bit reminiscent of hristie’s, but still totally his own.) Great read! Thanks, Diana

    Like

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