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text 2019-01-31 11:42
Reading progress update: I've read 24 out of 300 pages.
Snowblind (Dark Iceland) - Quentin Bates,Ragnar Jónasson

This book ...

 

I admit, I´m feeling a bit under the weather at the moment and my chronic sinusitis makes me really grumpy, so my criticism might be a bit harsh. Or this book might be that badly written as I perceive it to be.

 

It starts off with a prologue, in which the authors tries to create an atmosphere:

 

The red stain was like a scream in the silence.

The snow-covered ground was so white that it had almost banished the winter night´s darkness, elemental in its purity.

[...]

Few people were about. Most people stayed indoors, happy to enjoy the weather from behind a window. It was possible that some of them had decided to stay at home after the death at the Dramatic Society. Tales travelled swiftly and the atmosphere was heavy with suspicion, in spite of the town´s peacuful outward appearance. A bird flying over the town would not have noticed anything unusual, would not have sensed the tension in the air, the uncertainty and even the fear, not unless it had flown over the little black garden in the middle of the town.

The tall trees surroundingthe garden were in the winter finery, taking on shadowy shapes in the darkness that were reminiscent of clowns rather than trolls, decked in delicate white from the ground up, in spite of the snow weighing down some of their branches.

 

Well, that´s a whole lot of blah, blah, blah. The prologue ends with an injured woman lying in the snow:

 

She lay in the middle of the garden, like a snow angel.

From a distance she appeared peaceful.

Her arms splayed from her sides. She wore a faded pair of jeans and was naked from the waist up, her long hair around her like a coronet in the snow; snow that shouldn´t be that shade of red.

A pool of blood had formed around her.

Her skin seemed to be failing alarmingly fast, taking on the colour of marble, as if in response to thew striking crimson that surrounded her.

Her lips were blue. Her shallow breath came fast.

She seemed to be looking up into the dark heavens.

Then her eyes snapped shut.

 

She seems pretty dead to me. How she has enough energy to snap her eyes shut is beyond me, though.

 

From this point we go about half a year back in time and we get introduced to Ari, former philosophy/theology student, who now is about to become a police officer. He just moved together with his girlfriend in Reykjavik and when Ari takes on a new job in a very remote town in Iceland without asking his girlfriend first, tensions arise between these two. And ... I don´t care. And tbh, these informations about Ari would have fit into a single paragraph, instead the author is droning on about it over three chapters.

 

He does the same for another character, a woman called Ugla, who apparently has lost her boyfriend and who has befriended an elderly man in the town where she is living now. I don´t know how she ties into the overall story (which at this point still is non-existent) and quite frankly, I don´t care.

And then there are some weird chapters in between, in which a women apparently gets held at knife point. Don´t know who that woman is, either. And again, I don´t care.

 

One less book on my physical shelf, one more book for charity.

 

Next. 

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review 2018-02-25 18:08
Snowblind: whiteouts aren't all they're cracked up to be
Snowblind (Dark Iceland) - Quentin Bates,Ragnar Jónasson

Siglufjörður is a fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors and "nothing ever happens" according to the chief of police who has been there forever. Even better, it's accessible only via tunnel and frequently snowed in because of avalanches. Enter Ari Thór Arason -- who will finish his exams and training here. At most he's a supposedly talented rookie on his first posting, far from Reykjavik where's he's been at school and lived with his almost-doctor girlfriend.

 

Sounds ripe for mystery and crime, no? Also, it's not New York or London or Shanghai or Moscow or any of the usual suspects we find in police procedurals or mysteries. I loved the idea.

 

Unfortunately, this novel felt like so much set-up for a series, and I have a pet peeve about writers doing that. I'm eventually going to read the second one, but I will admit I don't have high hopes, and I will borrow it from the library.

 

A lot was just unrealistic about the plot of this "mystery." First of all our hero is so young as to not even have finished his training when he moves to the town where he's been told "nothing ever happens" and in short order solves a twisted and complex bunch of crimes. Those crimes aren't even being acknowledged by the police that have been in the town forever, but our young almost-cop figures it all out without any help and with seemingly very little trouble or time.

 

Then there was this weird extraneous romantic plot which I'd be willing to bet a lot of money will resolve in one certain direction in the next book. The whole thing was very A-B-C, but not even that orderly. Come on, mystery writers, challenge me!

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review 2017-11-18 17:53
"Snowblind - Dark Iceland #1" by Ragnar Jonasson
Snowblind (Dark Iceland) - Quentin Bates,Ragnar Jónasson

I must be missing something here. "Snowblind" attracts lots of four and five-star reviews and is the first book in the best-selling "Dark Iceland" quintet, yet I found it fundamentally unsatisfying.

I'm told the language is poetic. I can see that it's trying to be. I quite liked the way in which Jonasson expresses the soft oppression of never-ending snow in phrases like

    "The freezing darkness swallowed him up."

and

    "He had tried to listen to classical music to drown out the deafening silence of the incessant snowfall, but it was as if the music magnified the gloom."

It works but it's not exceptional.

I'm familiar with snow and deep cold and the claustrophobia that living beneath a mountain can bring. They're well captured here but not well enough to sustain the book.

The plot stretches my willingness to suspend disbelief and the way in which our young policeman unravelled the secrets seemed to me too hard to swallow. The man isn't just intuitive, he's psychic.

I think the heart of my dissatisfaction with this book is the policeman Ari Thor. I could not find a reason to care for him. He seems an empty man. He starts many things but finishes none. He ties himself in knots about integrity and gets indignant about love and yet is too weak to live to either standard. I know he's young but if he's that callow, where's the interest?

If you fancy a Miss Marple in the snow, set around an Icelandic village drama society rather than an English one and with modern accents, local colour and the occasional stab at the lyrical, then this is the book for you.

I'm sure it would make great television. All the moody camera work and mournful atonal music could fill the gaps where the rest of the novel should be.

I had a similar reaction to Ann Cleaves' "Raven Black" and that made great television and has a huge fan base so perhaps I'm just not equipped to savour this kind of book.

I don't think that's going to change so I'll pass on the rest of the "Dark Iceland" quintet.

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review 2017-11-18 00:00
Snowblind
Snowblind - Ragnar Jónasson,Quentin Bate... Snowblind - Ragnar Jónasson,Quentin Bates I must be missing something here. "Snowblind" attracts lots of four and five-star reviews and is the first book in the best-selling "Dark Iceland" quintet, yet I found it fundamentally unsatisfying.

I'm told the language is poetic. I can see that it's trying to be. I quite liked the way in which Jonasson expresses the soft oppression of never-ending snow in phrases like

"The freezing darkness swallowed him up."

and

"He had tried to listen to classical music to drown out the deafening silence of the incessant snowfall, but it was as if the music magnified the gloom."

It works but it's not exceptional.

I'm familiar with snow and deep cold and the claustrophobia that living beneath a mountain can bring. They're well captured here but not well enough to sustain the book.

The plot stretches my willingness to suspend disbelief and the way in which our young policeman unravelled the secrets seemed to me too hard to swallow. The man isn't just intuitive, he's psychic.

I think the heart of my dissatisfaction with this book is the policeman Ari Thor. I could not find a reason to care for him. He seems an empty man. He starts many things but finishes none. He ties himself in knots about integrity and gets indignant about love and yet is too weak to live to either standard. I know he's young but if he's that callow, where's the interest?

If you fancy a Miss Marple in the snow, set around an Icelandic village drama society rather than an English one and with modern accents, local colour and the occasional stab at the lyrical, then this is the book for you.

I'm sure it would make great television. All the moody camera work and mournful atonal music could fill the gaps where the rest of the novel should be.

I had a similar reaction to Ann Cleaves' "Raven Black" and that made great television and has a huge fan base so perhaps I'm just not equipped to savour this kind of book.

I don't think that's going to change so I'll pass on the rest of the "Dark Iceland" quintet.
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review 2017-11-18 00:00
Snowblind
Snowblind - Ragnar Jónasson,Quentin Bate... Snowblind - Ragnar Jónasson,Quentin Bates I must be missing something here. "Snowblind" attracts lots of four and five-star reviews and is the first book in the best-selling "Dark Iceland" quintet, yet I found it fundamentally unsatisfying.

I'm told the language is poetic. I can see that it's trying to be. I quite liked the way in which Jonasson expresses the soft oppression of never-ending snow in phrases like

"The freezing darkness swallowed him up."

and

"He had tried to listen to classical music to drown out the deafening silence of the incessant snowfall, but it was as if the music magnified the gloom."

It works but it's not exceptional.

I'm familiar with snow and deep cold and the claustrophobia that living beneath a mountain can bring. They're well captured here but not well enough to sustain the book.

The plot stretches my willingness to suspend disbelief and the way in which our young policeman unravelled the secrets seemed to me too hard to swallow. The man isn't just intuitive, he's psychic.

I think the heart of my dissatisfaction with this book is the policeman Ari Thor. I could not find a reason to care for him. He seems an empty man. He starts many things but finishes none. He ties himself in knots about integrity and gets indignant about love and yet is too weak to live to either standard. I know he's young but if he's that callow, where's the interest?

If you fancy a Miss Marple in the snow, set around an Icelandic village drama society rather than an English one and with modern accents, local colour and the occasional stab at the lyrical, then this is the book for you.

I'm sure it would make great television. All the moody camera work and mournful atonal music could fill the gaps where the rest of the novel should be.

I had a similar reaction to Ann Cleaves' "Raven Black" and that made great television and has a huge fan base so perhaps I'm just not equipped to savour this kind of book.

I don't think that's going to change so I'll pass on the rest of the "Dark Iceland" quintet.
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