Minotaur/ St. Martins, $25.99, 213 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-09609-8
Iceland sits just below the Arctic Circle, about midway between Greenland and Scandinavia. At the northernmost point of the volcanic island is the city of Siglufjördur . . . where in late November, “The darkness comes and curls around you like a furry black cat,” and it doesn’t even think about getting light again until sometime in February. Some of the people living there get depressed by the long dark night, others find comfort in it somehow, and still others—like Reykjavík lawyer Ragnar Jonasson—put their time in the dark to creative use, writing some of the best crime fiction of the new millennium. In his newest work to be translated into English entitled, Night Blind, series character Ari Thór Arason, one of two local policeman, is starting to feel claustrophobic in the small fishing village as the fall rains and the creeping darkness begin closing in. It’s a quiet town where nothing much ever happens . . . the kind of place where no one bothers to lock their doors because everyone knows every one else. This idyllic quiet is shattered when the local police chief is killed in the dead of night at a deserted house on the edge of town. It falls upon Ari Thór to solve a pitiless, arcane and increasingly complex murder, which involves the new mayor from out of town, and a psychiatric ward in the capital city of Reykjavík. When his old boss is called in to replace the murdered chief, it becomes obvious to Ari Thór, that the murder can’t be solved without the help of the local citizens, and he’ll have to improve his image with them in order to do his job. As the mystery deepens with each passing page and Ari Thór is forced to spend more and more time on the case, his relationship with his girlfriend—the mother of his son—becomes strained to the point of fracturing. Atmospheric, tense and complex, Night Blind has a memorable and absorbing plot that will keep you guessing until the startling denouement . . . which will take you totally by surprise. Ragnar Jonasson has translated fourteen Agatha Christie novels from English into Icelandic, and her influence shines brightly in his work . . . so much so in fact, that he’s being hailed as the Prince of Icelandic Noir!