img_0483With Ragnar Jonasson’s debut crime thriller Snowblind causing quite a stir on its release this year, we were all delighted to hear that it was merely the start of the Dark Iceland quintet and there were more to come…

So next up we have Nightblind and the action has moved on apace, with the events of this book taking place five years after Snowblind.*  Our previously charmingly naïve police officer Ari Thor Arason is still based in the small coastal community of Siglufjordur , but his boss Tomas has moved to Reykavik. Ari finds himself with a new boss (after a failed attempt to secure Tomas’ post), but his hopes for promotion could not be entirely scuppered as the book opens with the shooting of his superior officer, Herjolfur at an abandoned house. The community is appalled by this attack, and with winter drawing in, Ari and Tomas are reunited in their search for the perpetrator of this heinous deed…

TSQ3DKNAABSTlEm-GfmTIkRUhRMA5gEf5-qZZXGmZYQAs much as I enjoyed Snowblind, I can say confidently that Nightblind is actually even better. I don’t know the time period of Jonasson writing his quintet, but there is a real sense of a growth in maturity in his style and storytelling in this one. With an intuitive and assured translation by fellow crime writer Quentin Bates, this change in Jonasson’s writing is beautifully reflected in his central character, Ari Thor. The feeling of a touching innocence and naivety that defines Ari in the first book, has changed and sharpened into a more clear-eyed, and less trusting streak in his character. However, tinges of his former self surface intermittently, particularly in his almost paternalistic relationship with his old boss Tomas, who seeks to iron out the kinks in Ari’s sometimes naive investigative style, underpinning the solid and reliable nature of their detective partnership. There is a feeling that as much as Ari has grown in stature and his acceptance into the local community, he still has a way to go both in his personal and professional life, despite the steps he has already made. He certainly needs to sort out that girlfriend of his, with her wandering eye, tout de suite, and replicate the strength of his initial umbrage at being passed over for that promotion…

Once again, as the long claw of winter starts to exert its icy grip on Siglufjordur, with the darkening days, and the decreasing temperature, it does at time seem as if Ari and Tomas are experiencing their own battle with the diurnal clock to get this case solved and put to bed before the real onslaught of winter. With the small interludes that bring to the reader’s attention the encroaching darkness of a bitter winter, the tension is raised incrementally, perfectly in tune with the gathering pace of the investigation. As in Snowblind, with his insider’s knowledge and experience of this particular region, Jonasson flawlessly captures the claustrophobic intensity of this small coastal community and its inhabitants, and although there is once again a finite group of characters for the guilty party to conceal themselves amongst, I was hoodwinked a couple of times, with the investigation building to a highly satisfying conclusion. The more brutal nature of the crime that is the lynchpin of the story, and the shadowy dealings that this brings to light, in the course of the investigation reveals another development in Jonasson’s style overall. Consequently, as a reflection of the seasonal change, the shockingly violent opening event and the hardening of Ari’s character, there is a significantly darker feel to the book overall. As a staunch admirer of Arnaldur Indridason, I did feel the resonance of his style to a greater degree, and a more pronounced echo of the psychological, unlike the more locked room/ Christie inspired feel of Snowblind. I embraced the darkness. And I liked it. I’m pretty sure you will too…

*The next book in the series Blackout picks up the story again directly after the events of Snowblind, with the following two books set to complete the series of events linking Snowblind and Nightblind.

(With thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for the ARC)

 

Advertisements