Iceland is on my must-see list of places to visit and as every reader knows, when you can’t afford to physically go somewhere, the next best way to travel is by book. Which is why I jumped at the chance to read my first Dark Iceland novel. Rupture is actually the fourth book in Ragnar Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series but you’ll be able to read this as a stand-alone quite happily. However, you probably won’t be able to leave it there if you realise, as I do, that you’ve found a new nordic noir series in Ragnar Jónasson’s books.
1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all…
In nearby Siglufjörður, young policeman Ari Thór tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where no one wants to know, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik, who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town of Siglufjörður in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.
I love books like Rupture which have a myriad of story strands in them; as well as trying to solve the individual crimes, I get to try and figure out where any connections are before the author weaves them all together. In Rupture, I had my work cut out, not least because there’s one cold case, a virus outbreak, and a number of seemingly unrelated crimes in the capital city. I admit that I also had to flip back to check who some of the characters were, and their relationship to each other a couple of times because of how quickly they were introduced one after the other. And then about halfway in, something clicked and I flew through the rest of the book, eager to see how it all worked out.
Though initially the cast list felt large for the size of novel Rupture is, it does also mean that there’s a good mix of different characters from all walks of life, giving a sense of what Icelandic society is like. You get a feel for the rhythm of the characters’ lives and can imagine them continuing on with those after you close the pages on them. And I’ve always liked the idea of characters doing that, whether or not anyone’s there to read them. I enjoyed how differently policeman Ari Thór in the north-east and reporter Ísrún in Reykjavik work, and yet manage to work at solving a case together. They’re both interesting characters and it was good to get an idea of not only their working lives but their home and family situations too. It made them easier to engage with and root for in their investigations.
I also enjoyed that the action moves around Iceland between the capital city of Reykjavik, Siglufjörður, a small town in the north-east, and nearby Hedinsfjörður. The fjord was once temporary home to two couples trying to make a go of farming in an unspoilt part of the north, with the landscape of myth and legend all about them in the towering mountains, lagoon, and remote access. It’s not hard to believe there are ghosts, or were once perhaps more malevolent forces at work here.
Ragnar Jónasson writes so well about his island home that I got a real sense of having visited it in the pages of Rupture. (Although when I do visit in real life, I’m obviously hoping the body’s count significantly lower!) Ragnar Jónasson’s word pictures help you see what the characters see before them, to feel the chill that causes them to shiver, and the eerie quiet of a quarantined town compared to nature’s sounds of life in the ffjord, or the rain in a city garden and the bustle on Reykavik’s streets or in a busy news room.
Rupture spins an intricate web of stories: of lives salvaged where others are ruined or sacrificed; of power and control, of secrets and lies, of longing and ambition, of familial tensions, and how family either anchors us or untethers us. There’s a feeling of disquiet rather than menace about Rupture: like ice shifting beneath you, you’ll feel unsteady or unsettled at times. The cracks in the ice may be fine ones but you sense they could so easily rupture and that’s when they become dangerous and devastating.
Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson has been translated by Quentin Bates and is published by Orenda Books as an ebook and in paperback. It is available from Amazon UK, Foyles, Hive (supporting your local independent bookshop) and Waterstones. You can find out more about Ragnar and his Dark Iceland books on his Author Website or on Twitter.
Thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for sending me a review copy of Rupture.
My blog tour partner-in-crime is Adventures in Crime Fiction Land, so be sure to go and check out the review there and details of all the other great blogs participating in the #Rupture Blog Tour are here: