book review

Snowblind By Ragnar Jónasson

Publication Date: November 7, 2017 (first published in 2010)

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin’s Griffin 

Pages: 336

Genre: Crime Fiction, Nordic Noir

Rating: 4/5

Snowblind is the first book in a Nordic Noir series following rookie cop, Ari Thor, as he navigates his first job in an isolated sea village in Iceland. This book basically reminds me of the movie Hot Fuzz if you have seen that. A new cop moves into a tight knit community where everyone knows everyone and he is the outsider that doesn’t quite fit in. Then when there is a possible crime he is shut down and told to toe the line. There is a lot more to this story than just Ari North’s police career. We get to know the people of Siglufjorour and their relationships with each other and the secrets they are keeping. I was recommend this book by Abby from Crime by the Book when I asked her for a Nordic Noir locked room mystery. And that is exactly what this book is.

What makes this well known trope work so well in this story is the incredible setting. Jónasson does an impeccable job of bringing the real life town of Siglufjorour to life and easily transports the reader to the harsh realities of winter there. Being from California it has never occurred to me that a place you live could be claustrophobic but I definitely felt what Ari was feeling as the snow was continuously falling. The fact that the only way to drive in and out of this town is through a rock tunnel that isn’t usable during a heavy snowfall or a blizzard adds a whole layer of uncomfortableness. Besides just the weather in Siglufjorour the town itself is integral to the story since their small town habits make it harder for Ari to uncover exactly what is happening and why.

The hallmark of Nordic Noir is they are dark, graphic and gritty stories with complex characters set in the Scandinavian countries. Most protagonists in this sub genre have messy personal lives but they excel in their professions. Snowblind perfectly fits this genre as well as pays homage to the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie.

My only real complaint with this story was it felt bogged down at times by Ari’s personal life. Which I know I just said is an integral part of this genre but I think the reason I didn’t connect with it was because one of the main issues he is having is lack of communication. Which is one of my least favorite tropes and I feel like there can be a realistic emotional distance without characters avoiding talking to each other. Overall though I really enjoyed seeing Ari struggle with his personal life and how it impacted his investigating and mental health as he is living in a new town.

I would highly recommend this book to any one who is in the market for a new crime mystery and wants to dip their toes into Nordic Noir. If you have already read from the genres more popular authors, like Jo Nesbo and Lars Kepler, then I think you will find this book fits in nicely with theirs. I am looking forward to the second book in this series to see what Ari gets up to next.



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