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Saturday 9 December 2017

‘Whiteout’ by Ragnar Jonasson

Translated by Quentin Bates
Published by Orenda Books,
30 November 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-910633-88-5 (HB)
978-1-910633-89-2 (PB)

Thirty-year-old Asta Karadottir drives up from Reykjavik to Kalfshamarsvik where she used to live many years ago as a child. She returns to the house where she actually lived and is given her old room in the attic. Nothing really has changed, a Reynir still owns the place and it is looked after by brother and sister Oskar and Thora.

When a young man Arnar arrives, Asta finds herself rather tongue tied. The last time she saw him he was a very shy boy and now is an attractive self-assured man. It is obvious that they are attracted to each other.

It is two days before Christmas and policeman Ari Thor is sitting in his office in Siglufjordur police station when he is surprised to hear from his old boss Tomas. He asks him to help out on an investigation into an unexpected death further north on a remote part of the coast. He is reluctant to leave Kristin his pregnant partner, so Tomas agrees to let her go with him.

Ari learns that a woman's body has been found at the base of a cliff, it is thought at first to be suicide, but Ari finds strange marks on the body suggesting otherwise.  Tomas informs him that many years ago the victim's mother had been found at the bottom of the cliffs and then two years later her five-year-old sister had also fallen from the same cliffs. It was never proved one way or another whether either of them were suicides or something more sinister.

When the forensic team are called in, they find signs of a struggle in the nearby lighthouse.  Tomas and Ari become sure it was murder and then there is another suspicious death. Ari realises he must delve into the past and solve the old crimes before he can solve the present ones. This he does with surprising results.

I do enjoy a Nordic Noir story, especially Ragnar Jonasson's. His books are always very atmospheric, action usually taking place when the snow is falling heavily, enough to make me shiver!

Whiteout is a gripping tale not only of the present but also the past, full of twists and turns with many surprises.
It also contains some very interesting facts about Christmas traditions in Iceland. Highly recommended for lovers of Icelandic crime thrillers.
Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

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.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf  (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.

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