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 theater, 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.
After finishing the novel from Gunnar Staalesen, I continue this week with another Nordic crime noir. This time, I dive into Icelandic waters and I am snow-blinded by another great author, Ragnar Jonasson. He is much younger and this is his second novel, but he has done his job well, like an experienced crime storyteller.
Siglufjörður is a small fishing village in Iceland and not a first choice for living for young people. When police officer Ari Thor Arason is offered a place somewhere „behind God's back“ his long-term girlfriend is far from excited. But he considers this as a chance to do something different and accepts the challenge, even if it means losing his love. There is not so much to do in a small village in winter, especially for a police officer. But when a woman is found half-naked in the snow and covered with blood, the peace of the village has been destroyed. And when an old man is found dead after a fall down the stairs, people start to talk. An avalanche hits the road and the village is cut off from the rest of the world. No one can leave the village, no one can get in. Ari Thor is restless. He desperately tries to find out what happened with the woman, and something tells him that the man hasn't fallen by accident. Trying to figure out the connection between the two cases, new love shows up at his door to warm his heart.
Even if Ari Thor is the main character here, the author didn't give him too much space in the story. Ari Thor is a fresh police officer, a newbie who tries to prove himself. He accepts the job that no one wants, he takes the shifts that nobody likes. But he has a strong sense for justice and he is restless when figures out that something is wrong. His private life is a mess, he starts a new relationship while the old one isn't over yet. He needs time to figure out what he really wants. Fortunately, he is better in solving crimes than solving his love problems.
The author set the plot in Agatha Cristie's style. He slowly involves us the readers in the life of every character, and every character is a potential suspect. He isolates the village from the rest of the world, no one can come in, no one can leave. Hercules Poirot gathers all the suspects in the same room and slowly reveals the culprit. Ari Thor does the same. The village is the room.
Snowblind is well-written whodunit novel, perfect for a fan of a crime noir novels. Iceland has a dark side, it's a perfect place for setting mysteries in the snow. It is my first book from this author, but certainly won't be the last. I enjoyed the story and the characters, and will be in search of Ari Thor's next adventures.
My opinion: 4 / 5.