Author: Ragnar Jonasson (translated by Quentin Blake)
Publication Date: 1 November 2017
I am delighted to be today’s stop on the blog tour for Ragnar Jonasson’s latest installment in the Dark Iceland series – Whiteout.
Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kalfshamarvik. 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 Thor Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier…
Whiteout is the latest instalment in Icelandic author Ragnar Jonasson’s brilliant Dark Iceland series. Whilst Whiteout is the fifth release, I believe it is actually the fourth book in the series, if following a chronological timeline.
Siglufjordur Policeman, Ari Thor Arason, finds himself called to the scene of a murder in the remote Icelandic hamlet of Kalfshamarvik. It is a few days before Christmas and a young woman has been found dead at the bottom of a rocky cliff. When it is discovered that the woman’s mother and young sister were both found dead in the same location a couple of decades previously, the police question whether her death was an accident, a suicide or something a bit more sinister.
Whiteout is a ‘slow-burner’ with the suspense and tension slowly building as the plot develops. The story becomes increasingly more intriguing as family secrets are unearthed and the layers are gradually peeled-back to show the dark story within.
I love the ‘whodunnit’ feel to Whiteout – the isolated and contained setting, the limited suspect pool, the gradual building of tension, all leading up to the final reveal… Whiteout is a stylish, clever and atmospheric tale of mystery and intrigue. The story slowly creeps up on you until you suddenly find yourself hooked. Be warned, you will find yourself reading long into the night!
As with Jonasson’s earlier books, his writing style manages to be both sparse yet incredibly evocative. The author creates a vivid setting for his stories, effortlessly transporting the reader into the snowy depths of rural Iceland, with its strikingly stark, isolated and treacherous landscape.
Despite the sparseness of his writing style, Jonasson proves to be skilled at character development, impressively creating personalities and three-dimensional characters with seemingly minimal use of dialogue or description.
Jonasson’s writing differs slightly from a lot of the Nordic Noir that is so popular nowadays in that whilst it shares the same dark atmospheric quality, his writing tends to be slightly less gritty and violent – more of a procedural whodunit than a psychological thriller. It is actually quite nice to read a story that I find chilling and suspenseful, but that doesn’t make me flinch at the graphic depictions between the pages.
The combination of the suspenseful plot line and the bleak setting really does make this a chilling tale.
Whilst Whiteout can be read as a standalone novel, I would recommend reading the earlier books in the series first as there are some threads running throughout the stories that will provide some background regarding the policemen, Ari Thor and Thomas.
Whiteout proves to be a great read and it would make a wonderfully atmospheric and riveting choice for a dark, wintery day. I would definitely recommend this book.
Ragnar Jónasson is 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.