Nightblind - Quentin Bates, Ragnar Jónasson

After several years of upheaval, Ari Thór Arason has finally settled down. He & girlfriend Kristín have reunited & set up house with their baby son. The residents of Siglufjördur have accepted him & he’s content being a small town cop.


When his previous boss moved to Reykjavik, Ari hoped to fill his shoes. Instead the job went to Herjólfur, a seasoned cop from down south. He & Ari have forged a professional albeit cool relationship. But it’s early days & they have time to get to know each other.


Actually, they don’t. Late one night, Ari gets a life changing call. Officer down. He finds Herjólfur fatally shot outside an abandoned house where another mysterious death occurred decades ago.


All of Iceland is reeling after the news trickles south. This is a place where annual murders can be counted on one hand & the whole country is in shock (as evidenced by response to the recent real life murder of a young woman in Reykjavik). The tiny police department is hardly equipped for the case let alone the glare of national media attention. So when Tómas returns to head up the investigation, Ari is grateful to see his old friend & mentor.


In alternate chapters we meet an anonymous patient in a psychiatric hospital. As they scribble their thoughts in a daily diary, we slowly learn about their life & why they ended up being committed. As time passes, the entries become increasingly ominous & this is heightened by not knowing their identity or even when the events occurred.


The 2 main story lines run parallel until we get a glimmer of how they might intersect. There are plenty of shiny red herrings dancing around the murder investigation to make you pause & rethink what you thought you knew. Political intrigue & drug dealing complicate the search for a killer & add to the mysteries Ari & Tómas must solve before the shocking truth is revealed.


We also get more insight into Ari’s character. Herjólfur’s death rocks his world & makes him question his priorities. He & Kristín are going through a rough patch & for the first time, he begins to understand how his own behaviour affects those around him. It just might be time to come to terms with his past & finally share the secrets he’s been carrying since childhood.


If (like me) you’ve been reading these in chronological order, this is the most recent in the series. Every time I pick up one of these books, I get transported to this small piece of Iceland & the residents who have become so familiar to me. I feel like I could travel there & immediately find my way. The setting is starkly atmospheric & the persistent rain & gloom mirror the mood of the characters.


For Siglufjördur, like the characters, is changing. Its innocence has always been protected by isolation but the new tunnel provides access for tourists & those sniffing out new territory for criminal activity. The influx of new faces adds to the general unease in the aftermath of Herjólfur’s death. Some would call it progress but there’s great irony in people travelling to the same place to get away from it all.


Nightblind is another immersive & satisfying read in this great series. And now that I’m back in my own little corner of the world, it’s going to feel like a loooong wait for the next one.