Winterkill by Ragnar Jónasson ( David Warriner) #BookReview #BlogTour


When the body of a nineteen-year-old girl is found on the main street of Siglufjörður, Police Inspector Ari Thór battles a violent Icelandic storm in an increasingly dangerous hunt for her killer … The chilling, claustrophobic finale to the international bestselling Dark Iceland series.

Easter weekend is approaching, and snow is gently falling in Siglufjörður, the northernmost town in Iceland, as crowds of tourists arrive to visit the majestic ski slopes.

Ari Thór Arason is now a police inspector, but he’s separated from his girlfriend, who lives in Sweden with their three-year-old son. A family reunion is planned for the holiday, but a violent blizzard is threatening and there is an unsettling chill in the air.

Three days before Easter, a nineteen-year-old local girl falls to her death from the balcony of a house on the main street. A perplexing entry in her diary suggests that this may not be an accident, and when an old man in a local nursing home writes ‘She was murdered’ again and again on the wall of his room, there is every suggestion that something more sinister lies at the heart of her death…

As the extreme weather closes in, cutting the power and access to Siglufjörður, Ari Thór must piece together the puzzle to reveal a horrible truth … one that will leave no one unscathed.

Chilling, claustrophobic and disturbing, Winterkill marks the startling conclusion to the million-copy bestselling Dark Iceland series and cements Ragnar Jónasson as one of the most exciting authors in crime fiction.

I am thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for Winterkill today. Huge thanks to Ragnar Jónasson, Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

I was later coming to Ragnar Jónasson's Dark Iceland series which meant I was able to read the first five novels in the same year. It seemed as though Whiteout would be the final book but, much to my joy, Ragnar has been persuaded to bring back Ari Thór Arason for one more story. 
Seven years have passed since Ari Thór first arrived in Siglufjörður and in some ways he's a very different man. He's now the Inspector and contrary to the previous novels where he was mentored by the patient, understanding Tómas, he now has a younger officer working beneath him. However, he hasn't developed the same sort of rapport with Ögmundur and leads a rather lonely, solitary life since being separated from his girlfriend, Kristin and three-year-old son.
He isn't affected as badly by claustrophobia during the long, dark winter nights and has learned to accept and perhaps even embrace the frequently inclement weather conditions. Nevertheless he is in the odd position of still feeling that he will always be somewhat of an outsider, while also recognising that he has been accepted by many of his fellow Siglufjörður residents. Ari Thór could never be considered an open book, he is an inherently reserved man but Winterkill gives us a fascinating glimpse into his mind, revealing his  various thoughts, particularly his worries about his relationship with his son and his dilemmas regarding the direction of his career and where he wants to end up living. In some ways, he has grown to think of Siglufjörður as home and has even become resistant to change in the town; the building of a new tunnel has reduced the risk of the town being cut off from the world during the harshest winter months and the new wave of prosperity following the financial crisis means there has been an influx of visitors from all over the world. He might still be considering a move back to Reykjavik but when he grumbles to himself about the constant upheaval and the Easter tourists, he sounds more like a local than perhaps he is aware.
Siglufjörður remains a safe place to live and so it's perhaps not surprising that Ari Thór should be so affected by the discovery of a young woman who has fallen, jumped or been pushed to her death. There is little violence in Winterkill with Unnur's death occurring off  the page but although Ari Thór betrays no outward sign of emotion,  the sparse power of  Ragnar Jónasson's prose leaves readers left in little doubt that sight is horrific. He suspects the cause of death is probably suicide but ever meticulous, almost single-handedly conducts the investigation, despite it meaning he misses out on precious time with Kristin and Stefnir. He is reunited with his old flame, Ugla when she comes to him, concerned that an old man who lives in the care home she works in may know something about the death, as he has written 'She was murdered' over and again on his bedroom walls. However, he is suffering from end-stage dementia and is therefore not a reliable enough witness to base an entire case around. As the book progresses, it seems that almost everybody could be a suspect as they all seem so reluctant to divulge the truth. Winterkill is not a graphic action-packed novel but it is undeniably suspenseful - a blizzard hits town causing a power cut and the frigid darkness corresponds to the chilling tone of the investigation which takes a bleak turn as the dreadful truth behind what really led to Unnur's tragic death is finally revealed.
There is something about Ragnar Jonasson's writing which is so immersive, I lose all track of time when I'm reading his books and Winterkill is no exception. David Warriner's excellent translation perfectly captures the rhythm and tone of the original, meaning it flows effortlessly throughout. There is such a timeless quality to Winterkill yet it is still utterly contemporary. Elegant, melancholic and poignant, this exquisitely atmospheric book is almost certainly the final Dark Iceland novel and although I'll always leave a light on for Ari Thor's return, it is a moving, fitting conclusion to this exceptional series.

Winterkill is published by Orenda Books. It is out now in ebook and will be published in paperback on 21st January 2021. Purchasing links can be found here but please support our wonderful independent bookstores whenever possible, either by buying from them directly or by ordering through

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavík, and currently works as a lawyer, while teaching copyright law at the Reykjavík University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated fourteen Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavík, and is co-founder of the International crime-writing festival Iceland Noir. Ragnar’s debut thriller, Snowblind became an almost instant bestseller when it was published in June 2015 with Nightblind (winner of the Dead Good Reads Most Captivating Crime in Translation Award) and then Blackout and Rupture following soon after. To date, Ragnar Jónasson has written six novels in the Dark Iceland series, which has been optioned for TV by On the Corner. He lives in Reykjavík with his wife and two daughters.

About the Translator
David Warriner translates from French and nurtures a healthy passion for Franco, Nordic and British crime fiction. Growing up in deepest Yorkshire, he developed incurable Francophilia at an early age. Emerging from Oxford with a modern languages degree, he narrowly escaped the graduate rat race by hopping on a plane to Canada – and never looked back. More than a decade into a high-powered commercial translation career, he listened to his heart and turned his hand again to the delicate art of literary translation. David has lived in France and Quebec, and now calls beautiful British Columbia home.


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