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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Atmospheric, tense and introverted. A great addition to the Nordic noirgenre.

Snowblind: A Thriller by Ragnar Jonasson


                               

An unusual mystery set against backdrop of the wintery northern Icelandic village of Siglufjördur. As Ari Thor describes it, 'a place probably closer to the Arctic Circle than to Reykjavík.' And yes, it's a real place. Google it and you get an idea of the landscape and those desolate pictures say much to the claustrophobic emotions of residents when the tunnel allowing access in and out of the small community is cut off by the elements.
The mountain barrier throws into relief the images of people governed by their landscape. So when a young woman is found dead in the snow Ari, a young, emotionally reclusive policeman is thrown into the heart of the matter. His confidence is not helped by his fellow officers' attitudes. When Ari tries to explain his insights to his superior he is not listened to, so he stays away from voicing concerns or discoveries. 
On the personal level things are complicated starting with the way Ari fails to communicate with his partner about taking up the assignment in Siglufjördur. Add to this his attraction to another young woman in Siglufjördur and things become somewhat excruciating for him and us. The translator is to be congratulated. The prose flows well, dark and menacingly, with Ari's hesitancy so nicely developed.
Siglufjördur is a place where the endless snow is oppressive, a place where Ari finds himself being crushed by the 'deafening silence of the incessant snowfall.'
When an award winning writer dies, suspicions are voiced that this might not be a simply of natural causes. The community begins to turn in on itself, locked in as the people are with their own forebodings. The surprise element of what actually happens locks the mystery into its conclusion beautifully. A slow start belies the way the plot develops and interweaves into a fascinating work. Well worth the read.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

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