Winter Kill by Ragnar Jonasson

When the body of a nineteen-year-old girl is found on the main street of Siglufjörður, Police Inspector Ari Thór battles a violent Icelandic storm in an increasingly dangerous hunt for her killer … The chilling, claustrophobic finale to the international bestselling Dark Iceland series.

Easter weekend is approaching, and snow is gently falling in Siglufjörður, the northernmost town in Iceland, as crowds of tourists arrive to visit the majestic ski slopes.

Ari Thór Arason is now a police inspector, but he’s separated from his girlfriend, who lives in Sweden with their three-year-old son. A family reunion is planned for the holiday, but a violent blizzard is threatening and there is an unsettling chill in the air.

Three days before Easter, a nineteen-year-old local girl falls to her death from the balcony of a house on the main street. A perplexing entry in her diary suggests that this may not be an accident, and when an old man in a local nursing home writes ‘She was murdered’ again and again on the wall of his room, there is every suggestion that something more sinister lies at the heart of her death…

As the extreme weather closes in, cutting the power and access to Siglufjörður, Ari Thór must piece together the puzzle to reveal a horrible truth … one that will leave no one unscathed.

Chilling, claustrophobic and disturbing, Winterkill marks the startling conclusion to the million-copy bestselling Dark Iceland series and cements Ragnar Jónasson as one of the most exciting authors in crime fiction.

Review

Am I allowed to simply write as my review, that this book, this novel, this story comes from the hands of a master storyteller? I think so.

Could I just describe it as an artful telling of the events around the death of a young girl and end it there? Definitely, because that is how I feel!

That Winterkill by Ragnar Jonasson brings the best selling Dark Iceland Series to a close and it is an utter triumph! Oh it is.

I can, because it’s my blog and my rules, but I feel the need to explain and so here we go!

Inside the cover the author writes that he bought Ari Thór Arason back because fans wanted one more story. A risk for any author, given that the previous book was utterly brilliant! Do you give readers what they want and risk the impact of the series being lessoned, by stretching it beyond your original vision? We have all loved TV series, that should of ended on a high, milking a idea dry and leaving viewers disappointed. But don’t worry, you won’t be disappointed by Winterkill, because it is dazzling and the only thing I was devastated about, was that this is the end of a series of iconic stories.

From the opening moments, an intricate web of events is created around the death of a girl. We are drawn into the lives of the inhabitants of Siglufjörður as Ari seeks the truth behind her death. Was she killed or was it suicide? We feel at this moment, that the investigation is an open and closed, that Ari is working in an essentially quiet town, but this is a façade and death and heartbreak lurk just below the surface.

The atmosphere within Winterkill feeds into this and is achieved by harnessing mother nature, the power of a storm to ramp up the tension and create a chilling claustrophobia in both reader and the narrative. As Ari seeks answers, a gentle storm turns into what feels like a tempest brewing around them all. The world and Ari’s investigation is being confined to this small isolated village, trapping the inhabitants and leaving no room for secrets to remain hidden. It’s incredible how Ragnar Jonasson creates a set piece which traps all the main characters where time and Ari’s analytical mind will leave them with nowhere to run. It all felt so real, so utterly possible, that I was minded to check outside my own windows for clouds which promised snow and isolation.

I thought more than once I had guessed the final outcome, but that smug attitude was soon wiped off my face. A vivid cast of characters were presented to me, all seemingly normal, law abiding citizens, yet in truth the fake facades Ragnar Jonasson taunted me with, hid darker personalities and hidden evil. Ari seeming to be the only one I felt I could trust, but here to, the writer laid false trails for me to follow and then ripping the veneer of respectability away, revealed our beloved hero was surrounded by both good and sinfulness, I just had to trust him to reveal at the the truth at the right time.

He did and this the last in Dark Iceland Series is a masterpiece of understated, stark and terrifying storytelling, by the master of Icelandic crime writing. A true classic and as I said at the start of this review an utter triumph.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon, Waterstones and from the publisher directly on their ebookstore.

But why not consider ordering it from your local independent bookshop? If you don’t have one, most will post to you!

About the author

Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavík, and currently works as a lawyer, while teacher copyright law at the Reykjavík 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 fourteen 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 Reykjavík, and is co-founder of the International crime-writing festival Iceland Noir. Ragnar’s debut thriller, Snowblind became an almost instant bestseller when it was published in June 2015 with Nightblind (winner of the Dead Good Reads Most Captivating Crime in Translation Award) and then Blackout and Rupture following soon after. To date, Ragnar Jónasson has written five novels in the Dark Iceland series, which has been optioned for TV by On the Corner. He lives in Reykjavík with his wife and two daughters.

Visit him on Twitter @ragnarjo or at ragnarjonasson.com

About the translator

David Warriner translates from French and nurtures a healthy passion for Franco, Nordic and British crime fiction. Growing up in deepest Yorkshire, he developed incurable Francophilia at an early age. Emerging from Oxford with a modern languages degree, he narrowly escaped the graduate rat race by hopping on a plane to Canada – and never looked back. More than a decade into a high-powered commercial translation career, he listened to his heart and turned his hand again to the delicate art of literary translation. David has lived in France and Quebec, and now calls beautiful British Columbia home.

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