In the isolated Icelandic fishing village of Siglufjörður, a rookie cop newly transplanted from Reykjavík has his mettle tested by the claustrophobic conditions—and a murder.
The cop, 24-year-old Ari Thór Arason, impulsively left behind his medical school girlfriend and theological studies to join the police force in the small rural community. When aged author Hrólfur Kristjánsson is found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs, reeking of alcohol, everyone assumes it was "just an accident." But Hrólfur, chairman of the Dramatic Society, had clashed with the director of its latest production the day before its scheduled opening. And the celebrated author's death isn't the only shocking news in a town where Ari is told nothing happens. A partially unclad young woman is found unconscious in her snowy garden, the victim of a brutal attack. As the 24-hour darkness presses down on relentlessly snowed-on Siglufjörður, and then an avalanche closes off the town even more, the dual investigations take on a surreal quality. The first of Jonasson's Dark Iceland novels to be translated into English gets off to a clunky start. But the author settles into a page-turning groove, emulating his hero, Agatha Christie (14 of whose novels he's translated into Icelandic), by skillfully switching points of view and casting about for murder motives. While there's nothing fresh about the plot, the increasingly gloomy setting—a reflection of the tragic losses nearly all the characters, including Ari, have experienced—provides its own distinctive edge.
A bestseller in England making its U.S. debut, Jónasson's whodunit puts a lively, sophisticated spin on the Agatha Christie model, taking it down intriguing dark alleys.