23rd May 2017
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Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson, translated by Quentin Bates – dark thriller set in Northern Iceland.
Rupture is the fourth book in highly successful and critically acclaimed Dark Iceland series by Ragnar Jónasson (all beautifully translated by Quentin Bates). For the TripFiction blog reviews of the other three, please click on the respective links – Snowblind, Nightblind, and Blackout…
As with the rest of the series, Rupture is set in Siglufjörður in Northern Iceland and features detective Ari Thór. It also features Ísrún, a TV journalist based in Reykjavik. She first appeared in Blackout, but not with the same prominence… She appears to have taken over from Ari Thór’s boss, Tómas, as his new ‘partner’.
Rupture is very much in the same vein as the other three books but, if possible, the series gets better as it progresses. Jónasson has created a totally believable set of characters and locations (and for the first time, Rupture has a pronunciation guide at the beginning!). There are two parallel stories in Rupture. Siglufjörður is in quarantine following the outbreak of a deadly infection and Ari Thór uses the opportunity to investigate an unexplained 1955 death in a nearby, and isolated, fjord – Hedinsfjörður. Two couples had lived there is an old farmhouse – and one of the women had died in suspicious circumstances. It was put down at the time to suicide, but was it? Meanwhile in Reykjavik, Ísrún is both helping Ari Thór with his Hedinsfjörður investigation – and also covering the story of a hit and run death with links to people in the highest echelons of government. I said in my review of Blackout that ‘one of Ragnar’s great talents is bringing together disparate strands into a convincing and thrilling finale’. This time I felt just a tad disappointed to find there was no such connection – the two stories both end dramatically, but quite separately…
There is no doubt that Jónasson is a quite excellent storyteller. His plots are finely worked out, and his locations are authentic. You can actually feel the isolation of Hedinsfjörður, and imagine what it must have been like to experience a winter there. The plots, as I have remarked before, are Christie-esque in their complexity – but so much darker than the model. Not perhaps as ‘noir’ as some of the Swedish or Norwegian writers (I’m thinking of a Stieg Larsen or a Jo Nesbø), and you almost get lulled into a false sense of security with the normality and routine of Ari Thór’s life – until something gets up and bites you.
Rupture is a quite excellent read. Strong on characters, strong on plot, and strong on Iceland. No wonder that, with books like this, Iceland is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination.
Tony for the TripFiction team
For more books set in Iceland, just click here.