Book Review: Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson (Dark Iceland, 1)

Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson is a chilling and atmospheric Nordic Noir novel that takes place in a small, isolated town in northern Iceland. The book centers around Ari Thor Arason, a young police officer from Reykjavik who is posted to the town of Siglufjordur to serve as its newest police officer. As Ari Thor tries to adjust to his new life in the remote town, he finds himself drawn into a complex and dangerous investigation that threatens to tear the town apart.

One of the standout features of Snowblind is the way in which Jonasson uses the setting to create a palpable sense of atmosphere and tension. The town of Siglufjordur is surrounded by mountains and cut off from the outside world for much of the year. The harsh winter weather and the isolation of the town create a sense of claustrophobia and unease that permeates the entire novel. Jonasson is a master of using the environment to build suspense, and he does an excellent job of making the reader feel like they are right there in the middle of the town, experiencing the same sense of isolation and foreboding as the characters.

The plot of Snowblind is a classic locked room mystery, with a young woman bleeding an unconscous in the snow and an elderly writer falls to his death in a mysterious manner. With a blizzard closing in the culprit cannot leave and the entire village is trapped with a murderer.

As Ari Thor begins to investigate, he uncovers a web of secrets and lies threatening to destroy the town’s fragile sense of community. Jonasson is a skilled plotter who does an excellent job of keeping the reader guessing until the end. The mystery’s resolution is both satisfying and unexpected, leaving the reader with a sense of closure while still leaving room for the characters to continue with their lives.

One of the strengths of the novel is the way in which Jonasson is able to create complex and multi-dimensional characters. Ari Thor is a sympathetic and relatable protagonist, struggling to come to terms with the tragedy that has brought him to Siglufjordur while also trying to solve the murder that has rocked the town. The other characters in the novel are similarly well-drawn, with their own motivations and secrets that are slowly revealed over the course of the investigation. Jonasson does an excellent job of weaving together the different threads of the story to create a sense of community in Siglufjordur, with the characters all interconnected in ways that are not immediately apparent.

Another strength of Snowblind is the way in which Jonasson is able to create tension and suspense without relying on violence or gore. While the murder at the heart of the novel is brutal, Jonasson is more interested in exploring the psychological motivations of the characters than in creating a bloodbath. This restraint makes the novel all the more chilling, as the reader is left to imagine the worst while the characters grapple with their own demons.

If there is one criticism to be made of Snowblind, it is that the pacing of the novel can be a bit slow at times. While Jonasson does an excellent job of building atmosphere and tension, there are times when the plot seems to drag a bit. Additionally, some readers may find the novel’s bleak and dark tone to be a bit too much to bear.

Overall, Snowblind is a haunting and atmospheric locked room mystery that will keep readers guessing until the very end. The setting is immersive and chilling, the characters are well-drawn and complex, and the mystery is expertly crafted and executed. If you are a fan of Nordic Noir or of locked room mysteries in general, then this is definitely a novel worth checking out.


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