Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Mystery

Book Review: Snowblind (By Ragnar Jónasson)

Snowblind, by Ragnar Jónasson, was an impulse pick-up for me at my library. (Yes, I do spend a lot of time at the library, which probably isn’t a surprise at this point!) The blurb and setting were interesting, especially as the weather outside more or less mimicked that within the pages of the book. The book is a translation from the original and has been translated into English by Quentin Bates (who has also translated Books 2 to 5 in the Dark Iceland series.

How did my introduction to Ragnar Jónasson’s work go? Read on to find out.

Genre: 

Thriller, Mystery

Length: 

320 pages

Blurb:

Rookie policeman, Ari Thor, leaves behind his home and girlfriend in Reykjavik and takes up his first assignment in the remote village of Siglufjordur. Often snowed in during winter, the small fishing town has little in the way of crime. Until an elderly, famous writer – a resident of Siglufjordur – falls to his death, and a young woman is found half-naked, unconscious, and in a pool of her own blood, all within the span of a few days. As a snowstorm rages on, cutting off the only path into and out of the village and, Ari Thor faces more than a growing sense of claustrophobia – he faces the close-knit community of Siglufjordur that tells little and hides a lot. What price will he need to pay before he finds the killer among them?

Overall Rating:

8 out of 10 stars

Plot:

8 out of 10 stars

Characterization:

8 out of 10 stars

Primary Element:

4 out of 10 stars for its thrill; 8 out of 10 stars for its mystery

Writing Style:

7 out of 10 stars

Part of a Series: 

Yes, this is Book 1 in the Dark Iceland series, featuring Ari Thor. The books are in a different order in the Icelandic version and in the translated, English version. Snowblind is the starting point for readers of the English version (while being the second book in the Icelandic series), but it does not feel like it picks up mid-series.

Highlighted Takeaway:

A character-driven whodunit that pulls you right into its bleak, snowy setting, Snowblind is probably best enjoyed in the winter months with a cup of hot coffee, tea, or cocoa by your side.

What I Liked:

The setting of Snowblind is one of its highlights. It is perfectly crafted and sets the stage for the entire story, making each dialog and action that much easier to envision and connect with. Another highlight is its characterization. Moving through multiple POVs, the book gives you incredible insight into each character and their motivations, without becoming overwhelming.

What I Didn’t Like:

The only thing I would say I didn’t like is how the book is represented in its blurb – its genre assignment. Although stated to be a thriller, Snowblind doesn’t exactly keep you on the edge of your seat. While that doesn’t make it a bad book, it definitely results in you having to adjust between what you expect and what the book really is.

Who Should Read It:

If you like whodunits or character-driven mysteries, you’ll really enjoy Snowblind. It keeps you invested in the characters and their personal battles as it slowly unfolds. You’ll also really enjoy it if you like stories set in remote areas and that take place under the wrath of Mother Nature.

Who Should Avoid:

If you prefer your mysteries to be more thriller-oriented, you should skip Snowblind.

Read It For:

Its setting, and characters that will stay with you after you turn the last page.

I was quite torn when rating Snowblind. The main reason was (as mentioned) that its pitch is very different than its story. Eventually though, when rating it for what it is – a whodunit, not a thriller – I am compelled to give it a high rating. It’s a book that most readers of classic mysteries will thoroughly enjoy. If you liked Agatha Christie’s work, you’ll enjoy Ragnar Jónasson’s.

If you’d like to get your own copy of Snowblind, you can do so here. If you’d like to check out another Icelandic author who combines mystery with some thrill, read my review of The Doll by Yrsa Sigurdardottir.

What are some of your favorite mysteries? Tell us in the comments below. And, as always, thank you for stopping at The Book Review Station and reading this review!

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– Rishika