There is something beautiful and eerie with the wintry landscape of Iceland, which is why it’s a perfect place to set a murder mystery. In Ragnar Jonasson’s debut, Snowblind, he takes you to the isolated, small fishing town north of Reykjavik.
Ari Thor Arason is a police-officer-in-training from Reykjavik, when he is offered an oAri Thor Arason is a police-officer-in-training from Reykjavik, when he is offered an opportunity that is difficult to refuse–his first job. He moves to Siglufjordur, a small town known for its herring. On the surface, Ari Thor’s new home looks idyllic, with its winding roads and mountains, until two local deaths shake up the town.
Jonasson begins Snowblind with a vivid visualization: “The red stain was like a scream in the silence.” Throughout the book, there are eloquent descriptions of the landscape of Siglufjordur. Readers will feel as though they are walking the snow-filled streets with Ari Thor. When the weather declines and the anxiety around town builds up, the novel takes on a grim atmosphere that one can almost touch. This sense of unease makes Jonasson’s Snowblind a compelling potboiler. Jonasson has mastered how to build tension by creating well-developed characters and wrapping the setting with a claustrophobic feeling.
One minor setback for me: Jonasson may have successfully built suspense but the climax seems forced, if not a tiny bit contrived. However, considering that this book is a debut, I still look forward to reading more of the Dark Iceland series and more by Jonasson. With a slew of crime fiction getting published nowadays, Snowblind still stands out for its believable characters, sweeping landscapes, and riveting atmosphere.