Winterkill – Ragnar Jónasson

Easter weekend is approaching, and snow is gently falling in Siglufjörður, the northernmost town in Iceland, as crowds of tourists arrive to visit the majestic ski slopes.
Ari Thór Arason is now a police inspector, but he’s separated from his girlfriend, who lives in Sweden with their three-year-old son. A family reunion is planned for the holiday, but a violent blizzard is threatening and there is an unsettling chill in the air.
Three days before Easter, a nineteen-year-old local girl falls to her death from the balcony of a house on the main street. A perplexing entry in her diary suggests that this may not be an accident, and when an old man in a local nursing home writes ‘She was murdered’ again and again on the wall of his room, there is every suggestion that something more sinister lies at the heart of her death…
As the extreme weather closes in, cutting the power and access
to Siglufjörður, Ari Thór must piece together the puzzle to reveal a horrible truth … one that will leave no one unscathed.

Ah, Siglufjörður. It’s been five years since we first visited you in Snowblind (one of my books of the year for 2015), and it’s great to be back in this, Ari Thór’s latest adventure. Though I’m a little sad that it’s the final instalment in Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series.

It’s nearly Easter in Siglufjörður, and Ari Thór Arason is looking forward to a visit from his former girlfriend and his son. Then a young local girl is found dead on the main street, having fallen from a balcony above. Ari Thór is soon on the case.

I’m a huge fan of Jónasson’s books and his wonderfully sparse style. There’s barely an ounce of fat on this tale, and it’s just a joy to read, although over all too soon.

As ever, Jónasson presents us with, on the face of it, a simple puzzle. Did the girl jump, or was there something more going on? But intertwined with that are other threads – the cryptic message left by the elderly resident, the imminent visit by Kristin and their son. And its central theme of change – Ari Thór, once the new officer on the block is now an old hand, with his own protoge to deal with. Siglufjörður, once isolated, is now host to ski-loving tourists. It’s no longer the town we first met, and perhaps this is a fitting farewell.

Of course, it’s always tricky to talk about a crime book without giving too much away. And I’ll leave it up to you to find out whether Ari Thór solves this case, what the writing on the wall means, and what happens when the power goes out in Siglufjörður…

A friend recently asked me if I could recommend any Scandinavian Noir. I have quite a selection, acquired over the years. But the first book I reached for was Ragnar Jónasson’s Snowblind. Move over, Scandi Noir, Icelandic Noir is where it’s at.

As you’ve probably guessed, I think you should read this book. Go visit the little town in northern Iceland, with its excellent hot chocolate, fascinating inhabitants, and clever police inspector. Don’t worry, you’ll be safe in his hands.

Winterkill by Ragnar Jónasson (translated by David Warriner) is published by Orenda Books and is out on Thursday 10th December. Many thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, and for the advance copy of the book for review.

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

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