cover image Snowblind

Snowblind

Ragnar Jónasson, trans. from the Icelandic by Quentin Bates. Minotaur, $25.99

The 2008 financial crash provides the backdrop for Jónasson’s sterling debut, a tale of past and present revenge, which combines the power of extreme climate and geography with penetrating psychological analysis. Ari Thór Arason, a 24-year-old rookie policeman and former theology student, leaves his medical-student lover, Kristín, in Reykjavík for his first assignment in Siglufjördur, an isolated village on the north coast of Iceland. As the long, dark winter settles in, Ari Thór becomes embroiled in old hurts that roil beneath the surface of Siglufjördur, where secrets spread swiftly. The fatal fall of a drunken actor down a flight of stairs in the local theater appears to be an accident—or is it? As in the medieval Icelandic sagas, small physical details produce striking characterizations (“He peered at her and his lip twisted oddly, as if he was trying to smile, but at the same time hold it back”). Jónasson skillfully alternates points of view and shifts of time that set in relief Ari Thór’s efforts to find a purpose to his lonely life. The action builds to a shattering climax. Agent: David Headley, DHH Literary Agency (U.K.). (Jan.)