Snowblind – Ragnar Jonasson

Set in Siglufjordour, a fishing village in Northern Iceland, this crime novel (the first of a series) features freshly minted policeman Ari Thor Arason, as he moves away from the big city and settles into the rhythm and pattern of village life.

First, he has to deal with the discovery of an unconscious woman, bleeding and unconscious. Then a local notable is found dead at the bottom a flight of stairs in the local theater. As the newcomer, he has to struggle against the tide a bit, to gain acceptance, the handicap being that often his has to ask difficult questions to try and get to the bottom of these incidents.

The novel features a lot of character portraits that tell the reader what is going on. So, there’s little analysis to do. It’s the opposite of the writing advice: show, don’t tell. But, despite this, the novel seems to work well. The author does a good job – occasionally overdoing things – of portraying the small town world of that distant village, and the claustrophobia thrown up by the avalanche closing down the routes in and out of the place.

Overall, this is a book with a different feel; sort of an Agatha Christie village mystery set in rural Iceland. Life goes on in a sedate fashion, and in the background there is the darkness. It’s gently told, well written, and well crafted. The characterization is interesting and enthralling for more than just Ari Thor. The plot is OK, and a bit more open ended than you might expect.

Worth checking out.

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