• Publication date: 15 Sep 2017
• Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS
• Language: English translated by Quentin Bates
I was really honoured to be asked to take part in this blog tour by Anne Cater of the Orenda Books team.
Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier. As the dark history and its secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place. Dark, chilling and complex, Whiteout is a haunting, atmospheric and stunningly plotted thriller from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.
My Thoughts & Review
Here’s where I have to make a confession. I haven’t read any of the other books in the Dark Iceland series, although I have them all in my possession. I have no excuses because I won a whole set of the books in a competition and I also bought them all in kindle version. I’m really looking forward to reading the whole series now after reading this one though.
The book can be read and enjoyed as a standalone.
I’ve had a fascination with Iceland now for some time. I’d love to visit one day but for now will have to make do with wonderfully descriptive books such as this. With a nod to the translator Quentin Bates for translating this intriguing tale
Usually I’d have struggled with the pronunciation of Icelandic names and remembering who was who in a book such as this but because there were so few characters to remember in this book it made it much easier to read.
When three suspicious deaths have taken place over the years, two historic and one recent, in an isolated remote community close to the sea, it’s up to police inspector Tomas and detective Ari Thór to investigate the case. The problem is that it’s very close to Christmas so Ari brings his pregnant wife Kristin with him so that they can celebrate the festive season together and she won’t be alone.
The victims, including the most recent one, Ásta Káradóttir, were all from the one family and all had been found dead at the bottom of the same cliffs. First the mother, thought to have been suicidal at the time, had mysteriously fallen off a cliff edge decades before and so later had her young five year old daughter. Ásta the latest victim was at first thought to have befallen the same fate until forensic evidence found in the area seemed to suggest otherwise and throwing doubt on the previous family deaths. Were they all suicides, accidental or as a result of ghostly goings on near the old town ruins. Or had they all been murdered and if so who in this small community was responsible?
The investigation focuses on the group of people living in the house where all had been staying. An elderly brother and sister, Oskar and Thora, both holding retainer/caretaker roles for the other resident Reynir the wealthy reclusive owner of the property. Also Arnor who looks after Reynir’s horses and has duties at the mysterious local lighthouse near to the remains of local ruins thought to be haunted.
At times this felt like a classic Agatha Christie mystery where the murderer must be one of a small group of people gathered at a remote country house. With chilling vibes and strange dynamics between all the characters, the author Ragnar Jonasson slowly builds up an intriguing compelling tale that slowly unravels in the Icelandic frost. I didn’t guess the outcome I must admit.
Deliciously atmospheric in the run up to Christmas and I felt as if I was there in Iceland and chilled to the bone, although we have had a very cold snap here to be fair.
One Icelandic Christmas custom that was revealed that I absolutely loved was the fact that Icelanders give everyone a present of a book on Christmas Eve, to take to the cosy warmth of their beds to read.
A Dark, chilling and compelling read. Highly recommended
Lucky me because while all the other Dark Iceland fans are bemoaning the end of the series, I now have them all to read!
Ragnar Jonasson (www.ragnarjonasson.com) is the Icelandic writer of the Dark Iceland crime series set in Northern Iceland. Snowblind (2015) is the first book in the Dark Iceland series. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, and works as a lawyer in Reykjavik. He is also a teacher at Reykjavik University Law School and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated fourteen of Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. Ragnar is the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir, and has appeard on panels at Crimefest in Bristol, Left Coast Crime in the USA, Bloody Scotland in Stirling and Iceland Noir in Iceland. Ragnar’s short story Death of a Sunflower was published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine January 2014 issue, the first story in the magazine by an Icelandic author. His second Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine story, A Letter to Santa, was published in the January 2015 issue. Ragnar’s short story Party of Two was published in the Crime Writers’ Association 2014 anthology Guilty Parties, edited by Martin Edwards. Ragnar lives in Reykjavik with his wife and daughters.
Keep up with the rest of the tour
Also read the review today at The Last Word Review