Title: Nightblind by Ragnar Jónasson
Dark Iceland Series Book Two
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 240 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Chilling and complex, Nightblind is an extraordinary thriller from an undeniable new talent.
Ari Thor Arason is a local policeman who has an uneasy relationship with the villagers in an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland—where no one locks their doors.
The peace of this close-knit community is shattered by a murder. One of Ari’s colleagues is gunned down at point-blank range in the dead of night in a deserted house. With a killer on the loose and the dark Arctic waters closing in, it falls to Ari Thor to piece together a puzzle that involves a new mayor and a psychiatric ward in Reykjavik. It becomes all too clear that tragic events from the past are weaving a sinister spell that may threaten them all.
Nightblind by Ragnar Jónasson is a gripping mystery that takes place just as winter is beginning in a small Icelandic town on the coast. This second installment in the Dark Iceland series is a fast-paced police procedural starring Ari Thór Arason and takes place five years after the first novel ends since the translated editions are slightly out of order.
Ari Thór and his girlfriend Kristín have reunited and now live together with their ten month old son. His former boss, Tómas, has relocated to Reykjavík and he does not know the new police chief, Herjólfur, very well. While Ari Thór is recovering from a bout of the flu, he is stunned to discover that the small police department has been rocked by a shocking murder. With Tómas temporarily reassigned to help with the investigation, they start their investigation at the deserted house where the shooting occurred.
Although five years have passed since his introduction, Ari Thór is much the same. He is quiet with a keen intellect and sharp instincts but he is not one to talk about his problems. The encroaching winter darkness still presses in on him and leaves him feeling claustrophobic. His relationship with Kristín remains troubled and despite his concerns about her recent emotional distance, Ari Thór finds it easier to ignore their problems instead of discussing them. He is also still troubled by events from his childhood and he is still unable to discuss these issues with Kristín.
Despite some lingering resentment over not being chosen as Tómas’s replacement, Ari Thór does not let this interfere with the murder investigation. He feels a bit of kinship with the victim’s son and he keeps a respectful distance in order to allow him to process his grief in private. Although Ari Thór is happy to be working with Tómas again, he cannot help but bristle a bit when his old boss takes complete charge of the police department. Ari Thór might not be as experienced as Tómas but he is an excellent investigator with an uncanny ability to solve crimes.
Interspersed with the investigation are chapters containing diary entries from a patient at a psychiatric hospital. While the person’s identity remains shrouded in mystery, the pages from the diary paint a fairly bleak picture of somewhat dodgy treatment for an unspecified condition. The person’s identity and the significance of these chapters are not revealed until Ari Thór has unmasks the murderer and uncovers the motive for the crime.
Nightblind is an absolutely riveting police procedural that is fast-paced and compelling. The plot is complex and the characters are well fleshed out. The investigation into the murder unfolds at a realistic pace and Ari Thór utilizes good old fashioned detective work to solve the crime. I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this latest addition to Ragnar Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series to readers who enjoy atmospheric mysteries.