As National Icelandic Day celebrations get into full swing, in the UK we welcome Ragnar Jónasson’s first instalment of his ‘Dark Iceland’ series Snow Blind receives an English translation in a review by Barry Forshaw.
Set in the picturesque fishing village Siglufjorour in Northern Iceland, novice policeman Ari Thor Arason soon discovers that the remote habitat he has been assigned to protect is home to killer, lurking in the snow-covered community. When a series of murders upsets the idyllic hideaway, Ari realises he is far from his life he is acclimatised to in Reykjavik and must fulfil his duty in the perilous environment that puts his strength and determination to the ultimate test. Journalist Barry Forshaw shares his specialist views on Scandinavian crime fiction and Jónasson’s Snow Blind.
The dark, frigid nights of Iceland – and its recent dramatic history (including volcanic eruptions and financial crashes) – may be seen (curiously refracted) through the work of the undisputed King and Queen of Icelandic crime fiction, Yrsa Sigurđardóttir and the masterly Arnaldur Indriđason (who won a prestigious CWA Dagger Award for his novel Silence of the Grave (2001), with pronounced social concerns important in both of the duo’s books. And the relatively modest number of Icelandic writers making their mark may be finessed shortly; an author of promise is the talented Ragnar Jónasson with Snowblind.
And there are other names jostling for attention… but – really – are these writers giving us a realistic picture of their country? Homicide statistics in Iceland show that there are two or three murders committed per annum – one of the lowest figures in the world, and in itself a sign that the country is a safe and peaceful country to live in. Personally, though, I’m quite happy to enter the darker universe of Icelandic crime fiction – where life is cheaper than in the real world.
Words by crime fiction expert Barry Forshaw, author of Nordic Noir
Snow Blind is available to buy in bookshops now. Order your copy online from Amazon here.