Like Agatha Christie on Ice: Nightblind by Ragnar Jonasson
Imagine you could travel back in time, kidnap Agatha Christie, transport her to a remote town in the north of Iceland, pop her in the freezer for a little short of a century then wake her up with a reviving cuppa before pointing her in the direction of the nearest typewriter. The resulting crime drama would not be too far removed from Ragnar Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series. Yes, it’s that good!
I read Snowblind, (translated by Quentin Bates) a few months ago to compensate for the lack of snow here over the winter. I devoured it in a sitting and ordered the only other one in the series as yet translated into English, the very same day. Curiously, Nightblind is the fifth book in the series, and takes place five years after the events in the first novel. In that time, detective Ari Thór Arason has become a father, his partner Kristín having relocated to Siglufjördur from Reykjavik to be with him. Despite being reunited, with Kristín now working in a hospital in nearby Akureyri, and having become parents in the intervening years, things are still strained between them. These are not the only changes in Ari Thór’s life. After his boss retired, he was overlooked for promotion, and as a result has an uneasy relationship with the man employed ahead of him.
When his superior is found dead near a deserted house on the outskirts of the town, Ari Thór’s old boss is brought back to the town to help solve the case. As in Snowblind, a parallel mystery from an undisclosed period in the past runs through the novel which eventually shines a light on the murder case. As in the first novel, the tension builds, amplified by a real sense of claustrophobia created by location, the landscape and a tight-knit community no longer sure who to trust.
The excellent Icelandic crime drama Trapped was filmed in Siglufjördur, so after watching that, I could visualise many of the places mentioned in the novel. Blackout, another of Jónasson’s Dark Iceland novels is to be published in the UK in July, and if that’s not exciting enough for you, according to The Killing Times, the Dark Iceland series has been commissioned for television and is due to go into production next year – I can’t wait!