I do enjoy a good murder mystery and Ragnar Jónasson once again delivers exactly that and more. Nightblind sees the return of Ari Thór Arason five years after the events of Snowblind. His boss Tomas has been promoted to a new role in Reykjavík but, despite being Siglufjörður’s only remaining policeman, Ari Thór was overlooked for his own step up as an outsider arrived to lead the local department. Maybe this disappointment is why he doesn’t know his new boss as well as he perhaps should and has made little effort to ease the new man’s move to a new and isolated location.
In his personal life Ari Thór has been reunited with his girlfriend Kristen. They now have a child and are settled in this close community in the north of Iceland, but tensions remain as the long dark winter looms and when the new inspector is shot dead whilst investigating drug dealing on the fringes of the town, Ari Thór is once again thrown into an all consuming investigation that leaves him little time to think about the needs of his family.
The classic whodunit remains at the heart of the book and it is a clever and absorbing one as we are introduced to more of the characters who make up Siglufjörður on the edge of the water and surrounded by mountains. The reader quickly slips back in to the day to day life of Ari Thór, an appealing central character as well as a clever and sharp detective who pieces together the threads expertly in what is a complex mystery.
Alongside the investigation is a strong narrative of domestic violence and the impact it has on victims, perpetrators and associated family members. According to Refuge 1 in 4 women in the United Kingdom will suffer domestic violence in their lifetime and 8% will do so in any given year, whilst globally 1 in 3 women will experience violence at the hands of a male partner. It is a serious, highly relevant subject and it is good to see the tradition of Scandinavian Noir raising difficult issues being continued here.
Despite this strong and powerful thread, which also touches upon the way that the state cares for people with mental health issues, this is a very entertaining read and an excellent addition to the Dark Iceland series, which is due to continue with two more books that will fill in the five years between Snowblind and Nightblind. If you enjoy crime novels this is definitely a series you will want to add to your bookshelf.
In the author’s note at the end of the book Jónasson takes the time to thank the people of Siglufjörður for the loan of their town and though it seems harsh to wish further, even fictional, deaths upon them his books have certainly helped build a personal rapport with their home and I have to admit a desire to walk those streets and share in the non-violent aspects of Ari Thór’s story. To help with that we are also presented with a wonderful postscript beautifully written by the author’s late grandfather about the period of darkness that is the setting for Nightblind. It’s a lovely touch and only adds to the readers absorption into the setting.
You can follow the Nightblind blog tour, or catch up on previous days, using the diary below.