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Saturday 10 October 2015

‘Snowblind’ by Ragnar Jonasson

Translated by Quentin Bates
Published by Orenda Books, 15 June 2015. ISBN-13: 978-1910633038

I thoroughly enjoyed this Icelandic mystery by debut author Jonasson, seamlessly  rendered into English by Quentin Bates, himself an accomplished crime writer who sets his own books in Reykjavik.

Jonasson has chosen to move out of town to locate his story in Siglufjorour, a small fishing village in northern Iceland which can only be reached by driving through a tunnel under the mountains. 

The protagonist is Ari Thor Arason: a novice policeman sent away from the capital by his superiors to take up a new posting – and, incidentally, away from the girlfriend he is pretty sure he loves. Ari is something of an innocent, and is bewildered to find himself pulled unwillingly into a situation where he stands on the outside while everyone around him is intimately connected, one to another, and mistrust and falsehoods are an integral part of local  relationships.

And then in Siglufjorour, a young woman is found unconscious in the snow, and at the same time, a well-known writer falls to his death in the local theatre.  Why?  How?  As an investigation begins, Nature herself takes a hand.  The mountain pass out of the village is dramatically closed by an avalanche, trapping the inhabitants, including a killer on the loose. Heavy snow begins to fall,
making the atmosphere even more claustrophobic.  As the temperature drops, Ari's search for a murderer becomes too close to home for comfort. 

Jonasson has produced a tense and convincing thriller; he is a welcome addition to the roster of Scandi authors, and I really look forward to his next offering.
Reviewer: Susan Moody

Ragnar Jonasson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1976 and works as 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. Before becoming a writer, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had short stories published in international literary magazines. Ragnar is a member of the UK Crime Writers' Association (CWA) and recently set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA, in Reykjavik. He is also the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir (, which was selected by the Guardian as one of the 'best crime-writing festivals around the world'. Ragnar has appeared on panels at festivals worldwide, and he lives in Reykjavik with his wife and daughter.

Quentin Bates  is an English novelist of mystery/crime fiction novels. Quentin found himself working in Iceland for a year, which turned into a decade, and has used some of that experience as well as a university writing course to develop his Gunnhildur series. Although he is British, Quentin is more in line with Scandinavian crime fiction authors. Quentin is also a  full-time journalist and feature writer for an obscure nautical trade magazine.

Susan Moody was born and brought up in Oxford.  She has published over 30 crime and suspense novels, including the Penny Wanawake series and the Cassandra Swann bridge series.  She is a past Chairman of the British Crime Writers' Association, a member of the Detection Club, a past Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tasmania and a past President of the International Association of Crime Writers.  She divides her time between south-west France and south-east Kent.   Nominated for the CWA short story award.  Nominated for the RNA's award. 

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