Nightblind – Iceland – Ragnar Jónasson

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2000s, 1982: Siglufjörður: a quiet little fishing village until a policeman is shot in the dead of night

Why a booktrail?

Siglufjörður is unique in Iceland for being the only village accessible by a tunnel to the world outside. Life in the village is good and peaceful but when a policeman is shot at one night, at a deserted house, the sense that something bad is lurking amongst this close knit community.  Policeman Ari Thor is joined by his old boss Tomas, who has been recalled from a move to Reykjavik to get to the bottom of what is going on.

That’s just the problem however for the deeper they delve into the case, the more it looks as if local politics are involved and a newcomer to the village, could have brought with her, bad remnants from her past.

Meanwhile, in an psychiatric ward, not far away, some one is starting to talk…

Place and setting

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Siglufjörður is the place, safe and protected from the outside world where if something comes to break that peace, the result can be more deadly and more threatening than most. The town rather like the cover of the novel itself is dark and foreboding, the snow covers the village and muffles what really goes on behind those pretty closed doors. The community starts to unravel, threats are made and the biggest threat could be hiding in plain sight.

With a policeman shot, in a country where violence is practically unheard of, the effects are shattering. Gun ownership on the island is not uncommon as they are traditionally a nation of hunters after all, yet this has never been heard of before and so unsettles many.

Ari Thór has an uphill struggle on this hands as he knows everyone in the village, everyone knows him, yet no one seems to be talking. And a desolate house on the outskirts near to the tunnel holds the darkest secrets yet. A newly installed Mayor is making his presence felt, making a mark on the town, and a newcomer to the village has a secret no one knows about.

Meanwhile, with the chilling Icelandic winds,a voice can be heard…of someone locked in a psychiatric ward, seemingly against their will. Chilling as to what they reveal and whether those in the small village of will hear what could tear them apart

A small town, suffocating secrets, and a chillingly disturbing denouement

Siglufjörður
Snapshots of Siglufjörður (C) Ragnar Jonasson

 

Review..

This man is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. How he writes so poetically and evokes so much in so few words is just outstanding. The book comes in at just over 200 pages but the world created within it is every bit as perfect as  you could imagine. The sheer beauty of the Icelandic setting, an insight into a community now linked to the rest of the island by a tunnel, the dark foreboding of a policeman’s shooting and hidden secrets make for one heck of a novel. Ragnar grew up reading and translating Agatha Christie and ti shows for the adept plotting, the sense of fear and foreboding and hiding the killer in plain sight are masterstrokes that I’m sure the great lady herself would be proud of.

There’s even time for very well developed characters in the local policeman Ari Thor, his family life and that of new characters too. The overall effect is one where you can literally see them, hear them, see their breath in the chilling Icelandic air. And sense that you are in a very unique place indeed.

Once I found out just what the ramblings of the person in the psychiatric ward was all about – well…..

A lovely note too is added at the end where Ragnar prints a small passage that his grandfather wrote about the chilling yet beautiful period where the sun disappears behind Siglufjörður’s mountains. A lovely and poignant end to a story his grandfather would be proud of.

Author information:

Twitter: @ragnarjo

Web: ragnar-jonasson

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Snowblind – Siglufjörður, Northern Iceland – Ragnar Jonasson

snowblind

Why a booktrail?

The most northern town in Iceland, one where the snow cuts off from the outside world, one where a rookie cop is about to find there are a lot of secrets buried under that snow…

Story in a nutshell

Siglufjörður, Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors. It’s – accessible a small and quiet little place made to look even prettier when the snow falls and the landscape becomes one of still beauty.

But the mountain tunnel which connects it to reality is often blocked off by landslides. And when that tunnel is blocked, no one can get in or out.

And when a body is found in the snow, and a man is found dead at a local theatre, there may be those who want to escape…..justice.

The rookie cop from Reykjavik is overcome with the 24 hour darkness, the tightly knit community is darker still. Curtains twitch and the trees bristle in the wind but silence ensues..

Silence which needs to be broken. But wait,what are those screams?

Place and setting

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The red stain was like a scream in the silence.

The snow covered ground was so white that it had almost banished the winter night’s darkness elemental in its purity

Welcome to Siglufjörður, a quiet fishing village in the northern most part of Iceland where snow is as much a character as everyone else. Where a comforting light ay illuminate the immediate space but where the gloom envelops and smothers before the scream has even been formed from the depths of your throat. Closer to the Arctic Circle than Reykjavik, this is a chillingly desolate landscape.

This is a community closed off in many ways – and not just because of the tunnel which connects it to civilization. The people here are secretive and they have lived here for centuries, entire families have their roots here and a fierce level of protection surrounds them.

The ring of mountains protecting the town was almost entirely white that night and the highest peaks could just be glimpsed.

Ari Thór Arason: a rookie policeman is on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik. A woman’s body is found by a child who sees a ‘snow angel’ but there is no child innocence and hoinesty found elswhere – secrets and lies are deeper than any snowfall or avalanche.

Those who live here talk about you behind your back, a small local amateur dramatics group are blurring the line between what goes on the stage and what happens behind the scenes..

Ari is the only outsider, well Ugla is from Patreksfjordur but it’s as if Siglufjörður is a mask over her mouth.

Silence and snow reign and woe betide anyone who tries to fight the snowblind.

Bookish musings

Dark Iceland? This man not only invented it, he rules it. This is one of the most exciting places I’ve read about –  a real place whilst also being a real setting of intrigue with snowy landscapes, a town cut off by the elements, the isolation of hight mountains and a community cut off in every which way they can be.

From the opening page, the tension and chlling horror is there. The idyllic snow angel image is no longer full of childhood innocence and the snow blind of the title covers your eyes with white flurries and clouds of mis which shourd  the mustery and intrigue

God I felt cold reading this, wondering like Ari just who the hell I could believe. And that drama group was not even innocent here! Characters were well formed and you got the sense of isolation, history and dark secrets from the past.

Weaving in and out of secrets from one person to another, from one place to another it was a dark and twisty tale which made me doubt everyone I came across. the rookie policeman was the ideal insight into such a hidden community.

A brilliant debut from an author with Icelandic piercing eyes. Can not wait to go back there. But I might need to hold someone’s hand when I do…