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Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. 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, and 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.

300 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 2010

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About the author

Ragnar Jónasson

55 books2,735 followers
Ragnar Jonasson is author of the award winning and international bestselling Dark Iceland series.

His debut Snowblind, first in the Dark Iceland series, went to number one in the Amazon Kindle charts shortly after publication. The book was also a no. 1 Amazon Kindle bestseller in Australia. Snowblind has been a paperback bestseller in France.

Nightblind won the Dead Good Reader Award 2016 for Most Captivating Crime in Translation.

Snowblind was called a "classically crafted whodunit" by THE NEW YORK TIMES, and it was selected by The Independent as one of the best crime novels of 2015 in the UK.

Rights to the Dark Iceland series have been sold to UK, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Australia, Poland, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, Morocco, Portugal, Croatia, Armenia and Iceland.

Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he works as a writer and a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

He is also the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir.

From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic.

Ragnar has also had short stories published internationally, including in the distinguished Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in the US, the first stories by an Icelandic author in that magazine.

He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik.

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5 stars
2,585 (13%)
4 stars
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3 stars
7,247 (36%)
2 stars
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1 star
328 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,194 reviews
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,440 reviews78.1k followers
February 7, 2017
Oh boy, I officially have a major book boyfriend crush on Ari Thor (along with a large gaggle of other women no doubt). What started out as a slow burning noir suddenly turned into a twisty, fast-paced mystery around the half way point. This is technically listed as book #2 in the Dark Iceland series, but for those of us who are reading in english rather than icelandic, this is our beginning. The first third of the book does a nice job setting up our story; we get a good amount of the current state of affairs in our lead character’s life while also getting a bit of his history. We’re given just enough to keep us hooked on Ari Thor but left wanting more that will hopefully be revealed in further books.

Again, I think we all became a little obsessed with Ari Thor from the beginning. He’s so down to earth and cute in that clueless young man way. I did feel the pacing was a bit steady until we are introduced to the crimes described in the summary, but quickly picked up after that. What I had assumed would be a cozy murder mystery soon turned into so much more! I wasn’t expecting the major twists, and I think that is what catapulted this into such a great read. I love how the book is structured; we have chapters alternating from present time to a crime that has or will happen at some point, and as the reader we are left in the dark until that beautiful moment with Ragnar brings all the pieces together and connects every detail to a perfect T. I cannot express enough how fantastic it felt to be blown away by so many twists in a single book; as a reader of many mysteries and suspenseful thrillers, it’s getting harder to find stories that feel unique and fresh. I can see this being considered a classic police procedural that is talked about for many years to come.

Overall, this was a well-written crime novel that is equal parts thorough mystery and breathtaking suspense. The fact that this book is such a compelling, character driven read only adds to the appeal, and the setting itself is like another main character adding massive amounts of intrigue and darkness. This book has only fueled my desire to visit Iceland more, and I’m sure the remainder of the series will increase this passion as well. If you are a fan of nordic noir that is an excellent example of the crime fiction genre, look no further. This series needs to go on your must read list for 2017.

While I received my arc from Minotaur Books (thank you so much!), I have to also thank Karen Sullivan over at Orenda for putting this one on my radar (and also offering to send me a few others in the series to keep me appetite satiated); without her I’d be missing out on so many fantastic books that I wouldn’t be able to get my hands on otherwise!
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
December 16, 2020
”She lay in the middle of the garden, like a snow angel.

From a distance she appeared peaceful.

Her arms splayed from her sides. She wore a faded pair of jeans and was naked from the waist up, her long hair around her like a coronet in the snow; snow that shouldn’t be that shade of red.

A pool of blood had formed around her.

Her skin seemed to be paling alarmingly fast, taking on the colour of marble, as if in response to the striking crimson that surrounded her.

Her lips were blue. Her shallow breath came fast.

She seemed to be looking up into the dark heavens.

Then her eyes snapped shut.”

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One of the more intriguing exchanges in a movie full of great lines is the interaction between Griffin Mills, played by Tim Robbins, and June Gudmundsdottir, played by Greta Scacchi, in one of my favorite movies, The Player.

”’It's very green, actually.’


‘I thought that was Greenland.’

‘No, Greenland's very icy. Iceland's very green. They switched names to fool the Vikings who tried to steal their women.’”

I’m always perking up my ears about anything regarding Iceland. There is something so compelling about an island with so much snow and so much volcanic heat beneath. The first Icelandic author I found was Arnaldur Indriðason and have enjoyed his books immensely. Where Indriðason is more gritty and hardboiled, Ragnar Jonasson is definitely more in the classic British mystery vein that Dame Agatha Christie dominated for most of her career. Jonasson has translated 14 Christie books into Icelandic, and he was certainly doing more than just translating. He was learning the craft.

Ari Thor quit his studies in theology and philosophy to take up the study of law enforcement. An odd move that was baffling to most of his friends. He has a girlfriend named Kristin who is studying to become a doctor. She has just moved into his flat in Reykjavik when he gets an offer of a job in Siglufjordur, which is clear on the opposite side of the island in the northern part of the country. A town that frequently becomes snowed in for the winter.

He takes the job without talking to his pretty, committed, soon to be a doctor making lots of money girlfriend. It seems hasty, as if he really does want to escape to some remote area to get away from….

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Siglufjordur, Iceland

Siglufjordur is like most small towns all over the world. He will never be accepted as one of them. The best he can hope for is that they learn to like him and tolerate him.

It snows so much that it becomes oppressive. He can’t stop thinking about the snow, even when he is sleeping. He needs reassurance from Kristin even more, but she has become more distant and evasive as the pressure of her classes takes more and more of her time. Ari is not happy, but really there is no one to blame but himself.

And then the national treasure of Iceland, Hrolfur Kristjansson, the writer of the masterpiece North of the Hills, falls down a flight of stairs and dies. He was old. He had been drinking. He was agitated by an argument with one of his friends.

A tragic accident for sure. Well, maybe.

Then a young woman is brutally attacked and left in the snow to die. Suddenly, this small community has become very interesting. Ari sifts through the convoluted truths and, in the process, learns more about all the people surrounding the events than he really wants to know. The victims prove the most intriguing of all. What really happened to that woman and why? And who really is Hrolfur? As the layers are peeled back, the new information creates more questions than answers.

Now Ari is no Hercule Poirot. The little gray cells are not fully developed. Nor is he a Miss Marple, but he makes up for his lack of experience with determination and a tenacious desire to learn the truth, no matter how many broken threads of inquiry he encounters along the way. To make things more complicated for him, he is starting to have feelings for a girl there in Siglufjordur named Ugla.

My brain instantly translates that to Ugly, but she is far from that. Not only is she pretty, but she is also hyper intelligent, and most importantly of all, she is there.

As a final nod to Christie, Ari brings all the suspects together at the end of the novel for the grand reveal.

I enjoyed the small town in the North of Iceland. It seems like the perfect place to get a lot of reading done. The weather keeps people buttoned up, and the frequent avalanches seal off the town from the rest of the world. Nature imposed isolation is sometimes the only way for people to find any peace anymore. I’m rating the book 3.5 stars, but I’ll give Jonasson a bump to 4 instead of rounding down to 3. Call it half a star on account. I’m looking forward to reading his next foray because I really want to see this earnest young man grow into the detective I know he can be.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Nataliya.
745 reviews11.9k followers
November 27, 2021
This is a town where nobody locks their doors. “There’s no point, nothing ever happens around here.” Until the time when two dead bodies are found and there’s more to do than hand out traffic tickets.
“It was still snowing. This peaceful little town was being compressed by the snow, no longer a familiar winter embrace but a threat like never before. The white was no longer pure, but tinged bloodred. One thing was certain. Tonight people would lock their doors.”

In the middle of a dark snowy winter, to the eyes of a newcomer a tiny town in the far north of already tiny Iceland, right below the Arctic Circle, surrounded by mountains and the sea and connected to the rest of the world only by a mountain tunnel in winter, a place where everyone knows everyone but some secrets still manage to stay buried may seem a bit claustrophobic and intimidating and oppressive.

In the middle of the last recession, a new grad Ari Thór Arason is lucky to get a job as a policeman in Siglufjördur, a former herring town of a thousand or so people in the far north of Iceland — even if it means leaving a life and a girlfriend behind in Reykjavik and adjusting to a life as a newcomer in a tight-knit community. All while he’s struggling with adjusting to relative isolation (especially if the road out of it is cut off by a snowfall), dark snowy winter and loneliness. A couple of dead bodies within the first few weeks in his straight-out-of training job do not help the stress levels as he’s just starting to learn his job.
“Was there any hope of getting to the bottom of this case in a place where everyone knew everyone else so intimately? Old schoolchums, former workmates, friends and relatives; everyone seemed bound together with innumerable links.”

Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson has the tone and feel of a classic murder mystery — and apparently the author translated quite a few of Agatha Christie’s works into Icelandic, so he must have been inspired by one of the greats in the genre. But he avoids an issue that Miss Christie ran into, as he explains in his afterword — unlike her Poirot, his protagonist Ari Thór is a very young man, still green behind the ears (if you excuse this sophomoric pun) and still has much to learn. He’s unsure, he makes mistakes, and that makes him actually interesting. He’s not armed with a dark and gritty past that gave him experience and resilience — the crutch of many writers making their protagonist a grizzled and dark hero — instead, we see the events that will eventually shape him into what we hope will be a competent detective.

This story moves along at a measured and unhurried pace. There are no thrills or adrenaline, just slow investigation and piecing things together in the classic police procedural way. Everything unfolds slowly and deliberately. It focuses on the atmosphere with the mountains oppressively looming over the tiny town, isolating it from the rest of the world, giving it strange beauty that borders on menacing. (Speaking if it, I wonder what the actual residents of Siglufjördur think of the way their town is shown here). It makes me want to visit this place — but in the middle of summer, please.
“The smile and walk of a man, thought Tómas, who knew that he had escaped justice; because he’d done it before.”

3.5 stars easily rounding up to 4.

I definitely plan to read more in this series — and I just found out that the US publisher for reasons baffling to everyone published this series out of order, taking book 5 and releasing it as book 2, skipping the developments of books 2-4. Huh? Why this happened must be the real mystery of this series.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,737 reviews14.1k followers
January 7, 2017
It is so incredibly cold here, near zero or below for several days. The perfect time to settle in with this story. Although here we are without snow. When newly commissioned police officer, Ari Thor grabs the job in Siglufjorour, the only offer on the table, his live in girlfriend refuses to leave Reykjavik. He sets out alone hoping to maintain a long distance relationship until she changes her mind.

He arrives in the small town, a town enclosed by mountains, people who all know each other, finds himself very much and outsider. At first it looks like this will be nothing more than a community service posting, but this will change when an elderly, somewhat famous past author is found dead at the foot of the stairs at the drama society.

This is a very slow paced, atmospheric story, but we get to really know the characters, the flavor of the town. Feel the claustrophobia of the cold, the snow, see into others lives, their secrets and fears.Not a thrill ride but a slow unraveling that keeps pave with the unraveling weather. Once I got used to the slower pace, I settled in nicely with this well written novel, enjoyed the multifaceted characters and was constantly surprised by the revelations. A good solid read.

ARC from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Labijose.
959 reviews418 followers
August 3, 2021
Una novela que ha empezado hace poco a triunfar en España, pero cuya fecha original de publicación se remonta a más de 10 años. Nos acerca al pueblo islandés de Siglufjördur (el que pueda, que lo pronuncie). A saber, frío, nieve, sensación de claustrofobia, avalanchas, noche islandesa de más de tres meses. Oscuridad total. Aquí mandan a Ari Thór, un pipiolo recién salido de la promoción, en su estreno como policía. Para ello ha tenido que separarse de su medio novia de Reykiavik, que no quiere irse a vivir allí ni harta de brennivín (bebida popular islandesa, que si no te mata te hace inmortal). Él tampoco lo tiene muy claro, pero por algún sitio tendrá que empezar.

Se supone que allí nunca pasa nada, lo máximo morirte de frío o de una borrachera. Pero, al poco de llegar nuestro protagonista ¡tachán! Primero aparece acuchillada una vecina de la localidad. Y, al poco, un famoso escritor fallece durante los ensayos de una representación, no se sabe si accidentalmente o no. Y claro, nuestro héroe quiere investigar, pero allí no encuentra mucha colaboración. Ni por parte de los vecinos, ni, tampoco, de su jefe. Y, además, se enamora de una lugareña, que podría estar entre los sospechosos.

Novela negra muy sencillita y simplona, pero que a mí me ha hecho pasar un buen rato. Me ha recordado bastante a la serie del inspector Wisting, de Jorn Lier Horst, aunque con distintos matices. Lo mejor, esa sensación de frío y de oscuridad constante. Lo peor, que no hay que pedirle demasiado ni a la trama, ni a los personajes, so pena de poder aburrirte. Pero no ha sido mi caso.

Como curiosidad, Siglufjördur, el pueblecito de nombre impronunciable, fue la localidad donde se rodó “Atrapados”, la magnífica serie islandesa de ambiente igual de claustrofóbico. A mí no me quedaron muchas ganas de ir a visitarla, aunque el paraje es espectacular. Gracias a Google Maps y Street View, creo que la doy por recorrida. Y, de paso, cambio el brennivín por una Amstel, que me sentará mejor.

Tres estrellas y media para la novela, con ganas de seguir indagando en la serie.

Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,225 reviews2,054 followers
April 10, 2021
Snowblind is a police procedural set in a very small and isolated town in Iceland, during the winter when the sun never rises and the snow falls in impassable blizzards. Set against this background a very small team of police try to solve the kind of serious crimes that they never expect to see in such a place.

This book won prizes when it was published and it is easy to see why. The author excels at setting the scene both snowy coldness and the feeling of claustrophobia when days stay dark as night. Atmosphere is important in this book and the murder investigations are paced very slowly. Characters are introduced all the time, with some very detailed but always interesting back stories.

The main character, Ari Thor Arasen, is new to the job of policing as well as new to the town. I was divided in my opinion of him throughout the book and was never quite sure how to take his boss either. I am equally divided in whether I will follow up the rest of the series. Reviews say the books get better and better. Maye I will have peek and see.
Profile Image for Emma.
976 reviews976 followers
November 30, 2015
An incredible mix of Scandi-noir and classic detective fiction.

The young policeman, Ari Thor, is a wonderful creation: intelligent, earnest, impulsive, unsure, self-reflective, troubled. So human in his thinking and behaviour. Jonasson's decision to make Ari Thor a newbie, both as a detective and member of the town, gives the character a fresh perspective, quite unlike most of the main protagonists in contemporary crime fiction. He is in charge of nothing and is frequently overruled in his opinions by the more experienced Thomas, not always to good effect. His role as 'outsider' is both an asset and a curse; his lack of knowledge about the inhabitants of Siglufjordur allows him to see them more clearly, without the lens of past experience, yet that same status accords him less authority, further exacerbated by being newly qualified and youthful. He makes mistakes. His idealism is frustrated. He must come to understand that they are not always happy-ever-afters.

Ari Thor is just one example of the exemplary characterisation employed by Jonasson. Each and every one of the people the author reveals to the reader is fully realised, their backstories utilised to provide a basis for the choices they are making in the present day. They become more than caricatures of 'the cheating partner' or 'the man with a troubled past' to people with messy lives, real motivations and flaws, each living their own private, internal lives within the small town atmosphere of Siglufjordur. They show the truth in the idea that you never really know the people around you, that we all hold secrets. Of course, the depth given to each individual also makes it harder to guess whodunnit...

The weather plays one of the most significant character roles in the novel. The storm of snow and cold underlies every scene of the book, either hovering in the background or repeatedly forming part of the character (and reader) experience. Alongside the remote setting of the town, it deepens the sense of isolation from the rest of society. The town, and the people in it, are apart, by accident or by design. It is no wonder that the avalanche that blocks the only road back to 'elsewhere' only increases the sense of claustrophobia in Ari Thor, unsettling even the long-termers when things in the town seem to be taking a sinsister turn. The close knit community undergoes a transformation when it is trapped together, and when someone within their ranks could well be a killer...

All in all, I loved it and am very much looking forward to the next in the series Nightblind. Thankfully, I have very little time to wait. Anything else on my TBR will be shoved aside for this, it's a perfect winter read. The howling wind outside, the wintery storm within the pages, and a nice cup of tea to finish it all off. Heaven.
Profile Image for Beverly.
807 reviews293 followers
March 19, 2018
I enjoyed this mystery very much, I read it in 2 days and I usually don't read that fast unless its really engaging. The atmosphere of northern Iceland, the cold, the darkness, the continuous snow, is recreated completely and you feel the main character's claustrophobia and isolation so strongly., that I wish I could give it 4 stars, but the writing is a bit like Hemingway's short choppy sentences, but unlike in Hemingway there is not any depth revealed.

We never really get inside the young policeman's head, except in the most simplistic manner, he misses his fiance and is confused about a crush he develops on a girl from the town. He is also supposedly deeply touched and molded by the loss of his parents when he was a teenager, but this too is not filled in by the author. How has this made him who he is? Maybe it will be revealed in the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Inken.
420 reviews1 follower
July 7, 2015
Superficial, thin, lame ending that you could see a mile off. Scandi-noir can be very dark and depressing but this doesn't even come close. Other reviewers state you can really sense the claustrophobic atmosphere in this book but that's probably because the writer keeps going on and on about the main character constantly feeling (you guessed it) claustrophobic! Too many other characters in a very short novel make the storyline confusing and hard to follow despite its simplistic plot. And the epilogue seems totally detached from the rest of the story. Very disappointing.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,430 reviews993 followers
May 30, 2015
Snowblind is one of the most beautifully written crime novels I have ever come across – the depth of character, the truly gorgeous descriptive prose that puts you right on the spot – despite the claustrophobic quality of the world that Ari finds himself in I fell utterly in love with Iceland simply through the words on the page.

Story is everything though really, no matter the book you are reading – and Ragnar Jonasson has written one hell of a story – dark, unrelenting in places, magically constructed to ramp up the tension, all the while keeping it completely character driven and authentic.

I adored Ari as a character. He is so beautifully normal yet full of depth, depicted in a way that just keeps you with him all the way. I loved how he was dropped into this small tightly knit community, leaving his girlfriend behind (that relationship was very compelling) and slowly realised how isolated it and he could be. The author gives a perfect sense of a place where everyone knows everyone else and yet somehow secrets are still buried just beneath the surface, it was endlessly fascinating. I think I would have been fascinated even without the crime element.

The mystery is the icing on the cake really – and I don’t want to give anything away but it is truly compelling, very unexpected at times and cleverly done.

Overall this was a marvel of a read. I adored it with the true passion of a reader – it has everything you could possibly want if you want to be engaged, slightly haunted, completely entertained and I really cannot recommend it highly enough. 5 big shiny stars and some puppies for this one. Heavenly writing, stonking good story and characters that will stay with you long after putting it aside.
Profile Image for Selene.
933 reviews233 followers
October 31, 2017
Genre: Mystery
Pace: Relaxed to slow

The first 70% of this story was so relaxed and slow that I kept falling asleep less than an hour into reading this story each time. I also lost count after ten of how many POVs there were. I didn't mind the relaxed pace of the story but some areas felt too draggy and that's probably why this story acted more like a sleep aid as opposed to a more thrilling crime novel.

The upside? There wasn't a million flashback scenes and the story was told from the beginning--none of that fancy stuff where the story starts from the middle or end and works itself back towards the beginning.

▣ Overall, an okay read but it's the final 30% of this story that had me on high alert and was the most enjoyable.
Profile Image for Laura Tenfingers.
562 reviews87 followers
December 3, 2022
This grew on me and by the end I was quite enjoying it.

I couldn't quite get into our main character's head and that made it harder to get invested in his plight. He spent the better part of the book coming across as a total douche but managed to redeem himself slightly by the end. Hopefully he grows on me in future books, which I definitely plan on reading.

I was a bit annoyed by the repetetive insistence on the claustrophobia felt in this town. I couldn't understand how a town by the ocean could be claustrophobic but he kept drilling it into us. Again and again. Unfortunately he didn't show us, just told us. Lots of times. I googled images of the town and I could see how it might be claustrophobic since it's in a fjord and not facing the open ocean, but I would have preferred the author show me in words.

The town and it's inhabitants did grow on me though. I'd love to see a place like that in the dead of winter and I really cannot imagine living there. But it's also alluring somehow.

I'd say this was more if a mystery than a thriller but the mystery and crime aspect were well done.

I'll definitely keep going but I hope they get better.
Profile Image for Paula K .
421 reviews423 followers
January 9, 2018
Here is a scandi-nordic crime series worth reading! Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson is the first novel in his Dark Iceland series. The setting is fantastic. The novel takes place in Northern Iceland in an old fishing village that only has one mountain pass to get into. During the winter avalanches happen on a regular basis and nobody can get in or out of the town, causing panic for some of it’s inhabitants, mostly those newly arrived. What’s really interesting is that everyone lives in complete darkness 24 hours of the day due to the mountains hiding the sun until summer approaches and then the scene is heavenly.

Ari Thor, newly graduated from police academy, takes a job on a whim in this isolated village after the retirement of one of their officers. Jónasson really digs in giving us a terrific background for Ari Thor both past and present. Snowblind starts out slow, but builds up pace as the book progresses and then it explodes! For a supposed town where nothing happens Ari Thor uncovers a recent murder as well as one that happened years ago. Lots of interesting twists!

If you are on the lookout for a new crime series Dark Iceland won’t disappoint. It’s a fast read that I finished in 2 days.

Thanks to Miriam for recommending the series after reading #5.

4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Brenda.
725 reviews148 followers
January 29, 2016
This book is the author's first to be translated into English. It was interesting, although mostly plodding along slowly. Much was made of the darkness, the snowy weather, and claustrophobia created by the surrounding mountains, but I didn't really feel it. I looked up Siglufjördur, Iceland on Apple Maps and it is a very isolated, small village near the Arctic Circle. That helped the atmosphere of the book. The crimes can be found in any old crime novel, but how they are handled in this book are kind of lackadaisical. It's mostly the rookie cop doing the investigating and putting all the pieces together, both current and from the past. A second book, Nightblind, is due this summer and I will eventually read it.
Profile Image for Zuky the BookBum.
592 reviews312 followers
January 16, 2019
This review is a long time coming, considering I read it during my trip to Norway. Luckily, it was such a memorable read that I was able to still write a pretty decent review… I hope.

I was extremely excited about this. It’s the beginning of a well-loved Nordic Noir series which I thought would be great for me, however, I found the whole book infuriating, for many, many reasons.

My main irritation with the book, and you will probably already know if you follow my rants on Instagram, was the main character, Ari Thor. I should have given an award in my 2018 reading wrap-up for “least favourite character” because Ari Thor would have definitely won it! What an absolute tosser! I am about to swim into spoiler territory here, but it’s not essential to the crime element of the story. The biggest thing that annoyed me about Ari Thor is that he blames the entire demise of his relationship with his girlfriend on her, even though he’s the one who moved hundreds of miles away without pre-warning her. There are so many times in the novel where I just wanted to hit him. He thinks about how “ungrateful” and “rude” his girlfriend is several times because she can’t take the time out of her busy schedule (of studying for university and working in a hospital) even though if it really mattered to him, he could go visit her instead. Then everything just gets worse when he goes and cheats on her with barely a second thought. UGH. So many reviewers are calling Ari Thor their book crush but for me, he was a self-centred, obnoxious arse… sounds like my worst nightmare in a man!

My next problem with this was simply that I found the story extremely dull and slow. It wasn’t until around 100 pages in when anything even remotely exciting happened. Before that, the story is just Ari Thor complaining about his girlfriend. After this first ‘event’ happens, the book then slows its pace again for another good chunk of pages before anything more “exciting” happens. Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes absolutely love a slow paced novel, but there was nothing atmospheric about this book, the slow parts were simply just boring and didn’t bring anything to the story.

At just under 300 pages, this isn’t a long novel (although it sure felt like it) so you’d think that Jonasson would want to do a quick but efficient job of introducing us to the characters. Instead, we get a mini-memoir of each one that drags on for way too long. It also felt like he only had a couple of ideas for how a characters life was lived as there were a couple of deja-vu moments with the backstory of one character to the next.

As for the conclusion, I was bored by it. Sometimes a bad book can bring it back with a whopper of an ending but this one couldn’t even provide that.

I sometimes think I must be excessively picky because I find lots of translated books really difficult to get on with. This one felt especially clunky. Does Quentin Blakes speak English himself? There were numerous grammatical and spelling errors. Not to mention an abundance of terribly structured sentences (almost as bad as that one)!

Overall, I found nothing about this novel enjoyable and I’m amazed I even finished it. There was no atmosphere, the main character was really unlikable and the other characters added very little to make up for the bad MC, and the story was boring. It’s safe to say that I will not be continuing with the rest of this series.
Profile Image for Bob - in & out - on assignment.
207 reviews76 followers
April 2, 2022
Snowblind (Dark Iceland #1) by Ragnar Jónasson; Quentin Bates (Translator)
Published 2017 by Minotaur Books


"Snowblind" is an Icelandic noir mystery novel from the author of the "Hidden Iceland" series that I previously read and reviewed. In this one, the author introduces us to Ari Thor, a rookie policeman, who straight out of police training accepts a job in the remote northern city of Siglufjörður - located on a fjord not far from the Arctic Circle.

The best part of this book for me was following the insecure newbie cop through his acclimation not only to this new climate, but his adaptation to a new town, boss and fellow officer, and citizenry. Of course, he stands out like a sore thumb, everyone knows he's new, and some even take advantage of his naïveté. He's constantly second guessing his decisions, especially the one to leave his fiancée who he left behind abruptly and without consulting first. We've all probably made decisions that have placed us in new awkward situations where we have later dwelled on the correctness of that decision. Despite his missteps and misgivings, Ari endures and surprisingly, as demonstrated in the later pages, does well as part of this three-person police force.

Three stars for me means that I liked this book, I would recommend this book, and I will go on to the next one, "Nightblind," the second installment in the Dark Iceland series. Parts of it seemed to repetitiously drag on and some of it seemed awkward - probably a translation glitch, and for these reasons 3 and not 4 stars. A good book, not great nor outstanding, but a solid story. I look forward to seeing what transpires with Ari in the next one.
Profile Image for Mackey.
1,057 reviews364 followers
May 20, 2017
I will preface this by saying that I adore Nordic/Scandinavian mysteries. I like that they are slow, methodical, exacting and every single detail is important. I love that when I'm finished reading them I have learned something that I didn't know before either about the location, the people, an ethnicity, something. They aren't just another "I killed a woman with a gun, I'm a sick bastard," book.

That said, this is the American debut of the international bestselling author Ragnar Jonasson's mystery. I've waited forever to read it and it did not disappoint. It started out slowly as we learned who everyone was and the ending could have been wrapped up more quickly but from what I understand his books only get better from here. It was great to read a real police procedural once again.
Profile Image for Helga.
887 reviews128 followers
June 3, 2020
Darkness and snow… Darkness and snow…

I cannot pinpoint the reason for my 5 star rating for this book. Was it the atmosphere? Was it the imagery described so beautifully? Was it the writing style? The characters? The mystery?
Was it all the above?
All I know is that when I picked up the book it was mid-morning and by night time I had read more than half of it.

“Nothing ever happens here.”
That is what Ari Thór is told upon arriving to Siglufjörður, a small, peaceful village in Northern Iceland to begin his new job as a policeman.
Nothing ever happens in remote villages buried in snow.
Or so we think…
Because secrets have the habit of coming to the surface in small towns.
Profile Image for Sue.
1,243 reviews533 followers
April 9, 2018
After reading Blackout, the second of the Dark Iceland series published in the U.S., courtesy of NetGalley, I felt compelled to read Snowblind, the book that introduces us to Ari Thor Aranson as he he first comes to begin his police career in the northern Iceland village of Siglufjordur. In this small town, where fish used to be the way of life, the winter snow is a living, breathing presence that impacts function, emotion and even crime and solution.

The centerpiece of the story and the town is a play about to be performed by the local Dramatic Society. There are personalities galore at the rehearsals leading up to opening night but shortly before that night there is a fatal accident. A well known community member dies in an accidental fall. But Ari Thor questions--was it an accident?

Then there is another suspicious death. This one ratchets up the tension in the town and the story. There are many twists and turns as Ari Thor and Tomas, his boss, work to unravel what has and is happening in the village. Ari Thor has to battle his impulsive nature which can lead to "rookie" errors or miscalculations and his sense of claustrophobia and being overwhelmed by the closely surrounding mountains and constant snow.

Using the geography and an interesting mix of characters, who all seem to have something unexpected beneath the surface, Jonasson has created a captivating story. Recommended.
Profile Image for Janet .
338 reviews100 followers
February 11, 2016
I was seeing Snowblind everywhere. All over social media it was being talked about and I was kindly given an actual copy by the publisher which totally made my day .... so a huge thanks for that.

The book reads like an old fashioned whodunnit with great characterisations, twisty plotting that doesn't give much away and great place settings. It tells the story of Ari Thor, a newly qualified police officer, who accepts a position of work in a remote part of Iceland, Siglufjordur. A small fishing town with inhabitants that have been there for generations so everyone pretty much knows everyone. Ari comes along and is immediately known as the outsider, joining what is a very small police presence within the town.

A woman's body is found in the snow. A halo of red blood seeping through the cold whiteness she looks as if she's been carefully positioned there. An elderly and highly successful author is also found dead at a local amateur dramatic society theatre. Are these murders linked? What follows is a fairly slow paced telling of discovery as the story is spun out. Almost all characters present are given a backstory which gives the story real depth and the town itself takes centre stage as we get a real feel of the cold, remoteness and sheer beauty of Siglufjordur. I was really intrigued by the place and found myself looking up the town on the internet to be able to actually visualise the mountains and lakes. Stunning.

The book is slow in parts but overall it works really well and the last portion of the book had my heart beating so fast I thought it was going to beat itself out of my chest! The ending I didn't see coming at all and thought that was very well done.

In short, I really enjoyed Snowblind, mostly for the character development and placement but I also developed a soft spot for Ari Thor so was pleased to hear there will be more from this young officer.

Profile Image for Kelli.
850 reviews395 followers
January 23, 2020
Starting the new year off with a 2 star book...again. I added this one before it was published and waited forever for my library system to obtain it. It seemed odd to me that Boston Public didn't have this for years, but ultimately this story left me disappointed on all levels. Pedestrian writing that felt YA, drab characters, and sentences that didn't flow in English left me feeling bored.

2.5 stars
Profile Image for Christine.
831 reviews147 followers
December 2, 2015
Snowblind has been widely acclaimed this year. As soon as I started reading, I could see why so many readers had fallen in love with it. Snowblind is the first in a series of books by Icelandic author Ragnar Jonnason. It has been translated into English by Quentin Bates.

Snowblind takes us into a small isolated community in the north of Iceland, a place where everyone knows everyone and it takes forever for newcomers to integrate. Into this peaceful and dull environment, we follow Ari Thor a young police officer in his first post. This is a quiet town, where the police have very little to do. A woman is found half naked and bleeding out in the snow. An elderly esteemed author is discovered dead at the local amateur dramatics society. The peace is shattered. Can Ari Thor track down a killer?

One of the things that hits you about this book is the beautiful chilly and increasingly close atmosphere. There is an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia. Ari Thor feels it and it eats away at him. As the Winter season becomes harsher and the tiny town is cut off from civilisation by snow, this only grows. We know that evil lurks, within this small community; linked to the amateur dramatics society. The tension escalates, as we fall under its spell.

There is a lovely cast of diverse characters, as well as the shining lead in young Ari Thor. From Palmi, the playwright to Tomas, the chief of police to the Anna, the young future teacher, we soon start to get a handle on this community and who is who. There are plenty of suspects in this Icelandic whodunnit. It is a place of hidden secrets, jealousies and reasons for a spot of murder.

I am utterly relieved to learn that this is the start of a series. We need to know what happens next to Ari Thor, our intrepid young police officer. There is really something special about Snowblind, with its mix of classic crime and Scandinavian quirkiness. It is easy to get into, highly atmospheric and incredibly exciting. It is an exceptional translation, without any clunky English. Look out for this one!!! Recommended.

Profile Image for Lynn.
1,608 reviews48 followers
February 18, 2017
I really enjoyed the protagonist's introduction as a new police officer in a tiny town in the arctic circle. I caught the feeling of claustrophobia in the heavy snowfall and isolation....and ended up finishing the book outside in the sunshine this afternoon. I liked the characters and the setting and I'd love to read the follow-up set in this town during Spring. Hopefully it will be released in the U.S. soon.
Profile Image for Paul Ataua.
1,348 reviews126 followers
April 5, 2022
Fairly interesting Scandinavian mystery in which a young man, fresh from police training school, accepts a job in a small northern town near the Arctic circle. It’s a solid procedural set in the bleak snow and ice world of Iceland. It is one that does drag somewhat and one whose ending, while satisfying, failed to surprise. I might move onto the second in the series, but not soon. I need to get warm again.
Profile Image for María.
193 reviews79 followers
December 9, 2020
Novela negra de agradable lectura, ritmo pausado y con una ambientación ideal.
Profile Image for Barbara K..
397 reviews73 followers
October 31, 2020
For me, another great new Nordic noir crime series, the second this year. (I also loved
The Chestnut Man, which recently won a Barry for Best First Crime Novel.) Snowblind is the first in a series and I'm definitely looking forward to reading more by Jonasson.

The setting is fabulous, a tiny village on a northern fjord that once thrived on the herring fishing industry but is now very quiet and sleepy. The only other Icelandic crime series I've read is by Indriðason, featuring Inspector Erlandur, and as I recall, although Erlandur is haunted by events in remote regions, most of the books actually take place in urban Reykjavik. This location is very different. Jonasson beautifully describes remote Siglufjörður. The village is nestled between the water and a mountain that blocks the sun as much as the latitude does in the winter and limits access to the village, particularly in snow season when the threat of avalanches is omnipresent. These images are so well done that the reader can easily connect with our hero Ari Thór's feelings of isolation and claustrophobia.

Ari Thór seems like a great character on which to build a series. He's young and having difficulty committing to a career or a girlfriend, although over the course of this book he discovers that he seems to have an intuitive feel for police work. In other words, he doesn't carry that jaded baggage that is such a integral part of a typical Nordic noir protagonist. Still, Ari Thór's personal history does include some painful unresolved issues, so he's starting out with the right stuff for this genre.

The plotting is super, as we gradually learn that although everyone knows everyone else's business in Siglufjörður, they all seem to have personal secrets as well. Unravelling these and determining which are actually related to the two deaths in the book drives the narrative.

As the book nears its climax, the snow builds up and Ari Thór digs down until he reaches the truth. By the end Jonasson has set the stage for future books, with a half dozen characters on the verge of life changes.

BTW, in typical fashion I found myself checking out on Google maps the locations and routes mentioned in the book. Along the way I learned more about the growth and collapse of the herring industry in northern Iceland. There is actually an internationally recognized Herring Museum right in Siglufjörður! I wonder if this comes up in future volumes...
Profile Image for Laura Rash Wonderchick.
1,270 reviews142 followers
March 14, 2017
Honestly I had hoped this book would live up to all the hype & it certainly did and then some! Written so fluidly you can turn the pages quickly & get immersed into Iceland within a few pages. A twist on a good old fashioned hometown mystery that was highly entertaining. I'm kind of glad I'm late to the game on this series bc now I can binge read them all at once!
Thanks to Minotaur books for this copy in exchange for review!
Profile Image for Raven.
723 reviews205 followers
May 19, 2015
Snowblind is the first of his Dark Iceland quintet, with a pitch perfect translation by Jonasson’s fellow Scandibrit crime author, Quentin Bates, for the UK market. Snowblind has given rise to one of the biggest buzzes in the crime fiction world, and refreshingly usurps the cast iron grip of the present obsession with domestic noir. Introducing Ari Thor, a young police officer from Reykjavik, who takes up a posting in the small northern community of Siglufjordur, leaving behind not only the city, but his girlfriend too, and immersing him in a complex and perplexing case, in a claustrophobic and chilling setting…

Having recently had the delight of seeing Jonasson at CrimeFest, an international crime convention in Bristol UK, it was very interesting to hear that outside of his career as a lawyer, he has previously translated a clutch of Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. The shadow of Christie looms large, and it’s no exaggeration to say that her reputation for sublime plotting is flawlessly mirrored by Jonasson in his exceptionally well-executed novel. By using the claustrophobic confines of this small community in Siglufjordur, and its relative inaccessibility due to location and inclement weather, Jonasson cleverly manipulates the compressed cast of characters. The book takes on the real feel of a locked room mystery, with a finite group of possible perpetrators of the violent crimes, in this case a severe physical assault and a suspicious death, and giving the reader a puzzling conundrum as we attempt to identify the guilty party or parties ourselves. Speaking as a crime reader, this is always one of the essential thrills of this nature of crime book, playing detective and navigating the red herrings along the way. Jonasson provides this in spades, and due to a series of tricks in the narrative, all is not as it appears, confusing not only Ari Thor, but also the humble reader along the way. A whodunnit that really hits the spot, whilst also cleverly concealing the how and the why…

With the author being so familiar with the isolated setting of this book (Jonasson’s relatives hailed from the town) the overarching cold and sinister darkened atmosphere in the grip of a harsh winter is powerfully wrought throughout. Indeed, I felt that I should have been reading this neatly tucked up in a blanket in front of a roaring fire, such is the pervading nature of cold and bleakness within its pages. Equally, the situation and closed feel to the community seen through Thor’s eyes is tangible throughout, as he encounters for the first time some of the more eccentric inhabitants, the trust of being able to leave your door unlocked, and the more laidback style of policing by his fellow officers. I particularly enjoyed the way they were propelled into a situation they had rarely encountered as if they were saying- “A murder in Siglufjordur? Impossible!” and being reluctantly spurred on by our rookie police officer’s enthusiastic theories, that did at times fall on fallow ground.

The characterisation is well-realised, with an intriguing blend of the eccentric, the straight-laced and the emotionally damaged, working beautifully in tandem as the plot progresses. With the wide-eyed, and sometimes baffled incomer, Ari Thor, steadily encountering and interacting with them, again the Christie connection comes into play, as their dark secrets and murderous intentions come to light. This is truly a community where not everyone is as they at first appear, including Thor himself, heightening the sense of intrigue, and in some ways displaying all the well loved familiarity of a good old murder mystery, underscored with all the dark psychology of contemporary crime fiction.

So, all in all, as you will probably gather, I rather enjoyed this debut with its intriguing cast, terrific use of location, confident plotting and lively translation.
Profile Image for Blair.
1,770 reviews4,245 followers
August 17, 2017
Ari Thór Arason is a young police officer so keen to start his career that he accepts the first post he's offered – in Siglufjörður, a past-its-prime fishing village in a northern fjord. Leaving his girlfriend Kristín in Reykjavik, Ari Thór travels hundreds of miles north and finds himself in an intimate, old-fashioned community, accessible only by an ominous-looking tunnel and cut off from the outside world when it snows heavily (which it often does). His boss cheerfully announces 'nothing ever happens here', so you know what's coming next. With a small-town vibe reminiscent of classic crime (Jónasson has translated numerous Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic), a mystery soon presents itself: the death of an elderly author during rehearsals for a play, and a seemingly unconnected attack on a young woman in her own garden.

It adds something, I think, that Siglufjörður is a real place. Jónasson describes it beautifully, and being able to augment the book's portrayal of this picturesque, snow-dusted town with real images makes it even more captivating. I'm sure I'm far from the only reader to find Siglufjörður wonderfully beguiling, despite Ari Thór's conviction that it's claustrophobic.

For me, Snowblind was carried by its atmosphere and sense of place; that's why I kept reading. The mystery is okay, if not exactly edge-of-your-seat stuff. Ari Thór is a bit of a wet blanket and not much of a compelling hero – I suppose it's refreshing that he's a naive rookie rather than the more standard dysfunctional loner, but I kept getting annoyed with his attitude. The 'love triangle' storyline really tested my patience too. It's totally irrelevant to the plot; as this is a series, I have to assume it's a setup for something that will happen in a future installment, but that doesn't make it any more palatable in this case, and it doesn't make me feel particularly inclined to read the rest of the series either.

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