About The Book
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 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 the 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.
Whiteout by Ragnar Jónasson is part of the Dark Iceland series which are wildly popular Nordic Noi books.. The series features Ari Thór Arason a young policeman who moves from Reykjavik to Siglufjörður in the far north of Iceland for work. Whiteout reunites us with an Ari who has been passed over for promotion, is about to become a father and is subsequently contemplating his difficult childhood and its impact upon his life. Set a few days before Christmas Ari and his friend and colleague, Tómas, are required to travel to a remote and almost deserted village, Kálfshamrvik after the body of a young woman is found beneath the cliffs – the same cliffs where the dead woman’s mother and sister lost their lives 25 years earlier.
Åsta’s death is assumed to be suicide but initial enquiries throw up some questions leading to a full investigation. Kálfshamrvik is a small village containing only a few houses and inhabited by very few people making a very short suspect list. This village, with its columns of basalt making up the cliff face, the lighthouse on the point and the houses which can be accessed only by a small road create a claustrophobic atmosphere where the tension ramps up incrementally.
Having a small cast of characters meant that we could really get to know them and their foibles which as a reader is wonderful, especially when the book is such a well-written mystery. There are secrets, lies, deception and concealment by the main suspects and we never quite know who we should or can trust. I loved that there were so many years of history to unpick and that this seemingly straightforward suicide becomes a murderous saga with layers of mistrust and duplicity. Ari, as always, is a wonderful character, thoughtful and insightful, unsure at times but is prepared to stick his neck out when required.
This is a classic mystery with a simple premise and this in less capable hands could be dangerous territory as no room for error as any missteps will be glaringly obvious. It is a testament to Ragnar Jónasson’s skill as a writer that Whiteout is gripping and makes the reader feel part of the mystery and at times I felt like a budding Miss Marple.
Ragnar Jónasson is the master at creating novels with an incredible sense of place. His descriptions of Iceland and its towns and villages are vivid. Beautiful and stark scenery leap from the pages; I could feel the cold, hear the waves crashing on the beach and imagine the feel of the snow crunching beneath the tyres of the car as Ari and Tómas make their way to the crime scene. Iceland is the jewel in the crown, the main character and Jonassons novels are a love story to the beauty of his country.
P.S. I discovered whilst reading Whiteout that there is a tradition in Iceland for books to be given on Christmas Eve to be read long into the night – a tradition which I have fallen in love with. If you are a member of my family or one of my friends, I’m expecting all the books on the 24th of December. Thanks :-).
About the Author
Ragnar Jónasson is the author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 18 countries and for TV. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he continues to work as a lawyer. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.
I am thrilled to be one of today’s stops for the Blog Tour for Whiteout, many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Anne Cater for a copy of the book in return for an honest review. You can find both Ragnar Jónasson and Orenda Books on Twitter at @Ragnarjo and @OrendaBooks respectively. Whiteout is out now and can be bought here.
Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour, details are beneath!