Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I Can't Wait to Read: SNOW BLIND

Last year I launched a new irregular series here on Crime Watch, "I Can't Wait to Read", which features myself or other guest bloggers highlighting a crime novel (upcoming or already out) that they are really looking forward to reading. The series went into a hiatus, but returns in 2015, and I'm looking forward to sharing some great new and upcoming books over the coming months - exciting titles from new, on-the-rise, and well-established crime writers.

Today I'm happy to feature the first English-language translation from a very cool Icelandic author I met at Bloody Scotland in September last year, and then again at Iceland Noir in November. I was very excited to hear his Scandinavian thrillers have been picked up for publication in English, by Orenda Books, a new boutique publishing house.

The book blurb:
Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik – with a past that he’s unable to leave behind. When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life. An avalanche and unremitting snowstorms close the mountain pass, and the 24-hour darkness threatens to push Ari over the edge, as curtains begin to twitch, and his investigation becomes increasingly complex, chilling and personal. Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust ever deeper into his own darkness – blinded by snow, and with a killer on the loose. Taut and terrifying, Snowblind is a startling debut from an extraordinary new talent, taking Nordic Noir to soaring new heights.

The author bio:
Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavik in 1976, and currently works as a lawyer, while teaching copyright law at the Reykjavik University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavik, and is co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir, selected by the Guardian as one of the ‘best crime-writing festivals around the world’. Ragnar Jónasson has written five novels in the Dark Iceland series, and he is currently working on his sixth. He lives in Reykjavik with his wife and two daughters. Nightblind will be published by Orenda Books in 2016.

Why I can't wait:
Along with having a similar background to me (lawyer, journalist, festival organiser, crime history buff, etc), Ragnar just seems a very intelligent and intriguing fellow. I've heard terrific things about his books from people who've read them in the original Icelandic, and the idea of a series set in small-town Iceland, which is reminiscent in many ways of New Zealand (ruggedly majestic scenery, isolated geographically, hardy people, reliance on the sea and land, sparsely populated, etc) is quite fascinating to me. I've also experienced the northern winter, where the sun doesn't even rise above the Arctic Circle, so am very curious as to how Ragnar incorporates that atmosphere into the setting and psychology of his debut thriller.

When it's available: 
15 June 2015, in paperback and ebook


You can read more about Ragnar Jonasson and SNOWBLIND here: 


What do you think about crime thrillers from Scandinavia, and Iceland in particular? Does SNOW BLIND sound intriguing to you, as it does to me? What Nordic Noir titles are you looking forward to this year?

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