Nightblind, by Ragnar Jónasson (translated by Quentin Bates), is the second book in the author’s Dark Iceland series. These crime fiction novels, featuring policeman Ari Thór Arason, are set in Siglufjörður, a small fishing town in a narrow fjord on the northern coast of Iceland. The series started with Snowblind which I reviewed here.
Nightblind opens with the shooting of a policeman at an abandoned property just outside of the town. Ari Thór is called from his sickbed to investigate. Had he not been ill it would have been him on duty that night. He has a child now and the prospect of leaving his young son fatherless appalls him. Ari Thór’s father disappeared when he was young, an event that has affected him deeply.
The injured policeman has a teenage son who suggests to Ari Thór that the empty property was being used for drug dealing. A shotgun belonging to a teacher at the local college has gone missing, although it is unclear if this was the weapon used in the attack. Gun ownership on the island is not unusual; they are traditionally a nation of hunters. Added to this the abandoned property was the scene of an unexplained death decades ago. There is nothing to indicate that this may be relevant to the current investigation, but with no clear motive Ari Thór wishes to follow all potential leads.
Among those Ari Thór questions are the newly installed mayor and his deputy. It soon becomes clear that they both have secrets to hide. With the media taking an interest in the case these are about to be exposed with devastating consequences.
The first book in the series was set in the dark days of winter and the claustrophobia in a small town cut off from the world by snow was palpable. The setting for this story is less intense. It is not yet winter and a new road tunnel now links Siglufjörður with the rest of the island. However, the close community remains unused to opening itself to incomers. Ari Thór is aware that, to gain the trust of those who could shine a light on his investigations, or who could assist in advancing his career, he may be expected to compromise his integrity.
This is a polished and compelling work of crime fiction. The plot is edgy and fast moving with plenty of twists and thought provoking reveals. The denouement works well to bring the case to a satisfying conclusion. Ari Thór remains a believable character who the reader cannot help but root for despite his flaws. I look forward to the next book in the series which promises to fill some of the gaps in his backstory. Having read this tale, I am eager for more.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Orenda Books.
This review is part of the Nightblind Blog Tour. Other posts on this tour will be published on the blogs listed above.