Ragnar Jónasson: Snowblind
I received a physical copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Orenda Books
Publication Date: June 15th 2015
Siglufjördur: an idyllically quiet fishing village in northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnerl.
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, 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.
Ragnar Jónasson’s ‘Snowblind’ is the perfect mystery thriller: poetic and beautiful language, brilliant pacing that brings everything together but still leaves you reeling with questions towards the end, and brilliantly flawed and realistic characters that all hold a motive.
What first caught my attention was the language. Jónasson beautifully describes the snow, mountains, the houses, and the people with words that truly bring everything to life. His writing is infused with all the feelings of our main character Ari; his fear, isolation, and sense of claustrophobia all metaphorically linked to the landscape and setting of the surrounding village. This was a brilliant way to truly enhance these feelings and emotions and, coupled with the investigations being investigated, brings a tense and suspenseful atmosphere that blankets the entirety of the novel.
I really loved the way in which Jónasson implements side chapters into the narrative to add additional tension, suspense, and mystery to the overall investigation and bringing a sense of fear to the reader as they believe that these events are taking place parallel to the main narrative. These chapters slowly reveal details and information of our potential suspect through the thoughts of the victim. Alongside this, we are also introduced to a variety of characters within the community providing us with further potential suspects as we are provided with information that gives each character a motive to have committed any of these crimes.
The main character, Ari Thór is the perfect protagonist for this plot line. He is rash and, at times, headstrong in his approach to the investigation as he attempts to prove himself to his superiors in this small, isolated town. He is someone that cares deeply about the feelings of others which leads him to feeling isolated within this village as he is many miles from his girlfriend. He is also inquisitive. On top of all of this, he does truly care about what other people think of him, his past actions a constant reminder from those around him. I really loved this characters progression and how he develops alongside the investigation and the relationships he builds, truly becoming a part of this community. However, I do also enjoy that even though he does develop, he does not end up becoming this ‘perfect’ character but is still flawed.
Finally, I really enjoyed the pacing of this novel. A good mystery/thriller always needs to be well paced out so as not to reveal too much information all at once, but still holding the reader’s attention and leaving them questioning the truth. I can say that this truly happened. It isn’t until towards the very last quarter of the book that the suspects begin to narrow down significantly but the rest of the narrative lends a lot of support and information in the build up. There were a few twists and turns throughout the novel that I was not truly expecting and I finished the novel with a few questions left unanswered which I am hoping will be covered in the next book within the series.