Published by Orenda on 20 April 2015 as an e-book
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. Taut and terrifying, Snowblind is a startling debut from an extraordinary new talent, taking Nordic Noir to soaring new heights. ‘Is King Arnaldur looking to his laurels? There is a young pretender beavering away, his eye on the crown: Ragnar Jónasson’ Barry Forshaw
This month, I am reviewing three books published by Orenda (http://orendabooks.co.uk/). Orenda is a brand new exciting name in indie publishing. Here is my review of Snowblind, a book that has been lovingly translated from the Icelandic version into English.
Snowblind has been widely acclaimed this year. As soon as I started reading, I could see why so many readers had fallen in love with it. Snowblind is the first in a series of books by Icelandic author Ragnar Jonnason. It has been translated into English by Quentin Bates.
Snowblind takes us into a small isolated community in the north of Iceland, a place where everyone knows everyone and it takes forever for newcomers to integrate. Into this peaceful and dull environment, we follow Ari Thor a young police officer in his first post. This is a quiet town, where the police have very little to do. A woman is found half naked and bleeding out in the snow. An elderly esteemed author is discovered dead at the local amateur dramatics society. The peace is shattered. Can Ari Thor track down a killer?
One of the things that hits you about this book is the beautiful chilly and increasingly close atmosphere. There is an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia. Ari Thor feels it and it eats away at him. As the Winter season becomes harsher and the tiny town is cut off from civilisation by snow, this only grows. We know that evil lurks, within this small community; linked to the amateur dramatics society. The tension escalates, as we fall under its spell.
There is a lovely cast of diverse characters, as well as the shining lead in young Ari Thor. From Palmi, the playwright to Tomas, the chief of police to the Anna, the young future teacher, we soon start to get a handle on this community and who is who. There are plenty of suspects in this Icelandic whodunnit. It is a place of hidden secrets, jealousies and reasons for a spot of murder.
I am utterly relieved to learn that this is the start of a series. We need to know what happens next to Ari Thor, our intrepid young police officer. There is really something special about Snowblind, with its mix of classic crime and Scandinavian quirkiness. It is easy to get into, highly atmospheric and incredibly exciting. It is an exceptional translation, without any clunky English. Look out for this one!!! Recommended.