Delighted to take part in the blog tour for Winterkill by Ragnar Jónasson today. Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join. I have an extract to share with you from this final instalment in the Dark Iceland series but first, let’s first see what Winterkill is all about.
Author : Ragnar Jónasson
Title : Winterkill
Series : Dark Iceland #6
Pages : 276
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : December 10, 2020
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
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.
| EXTRACT |
‘Stay out here,’ said Ari Thór. ‘I want you to call forensics. And keep an eye on the scene until they get here, OK?’
Ögmundur nodded indifferently. ‘If you insist, but I don’t really see the point, Ari Thór. You can see for yourself, there’s nothing but blood on the ground. I’d be better going inside the building to make sure no one goes out onto the balcony.’
Ari Thór stuck to his guns. ‘Just keep an eye on the entrance, all right? I’ll go inside and take a look around the building.’
The front door was locked. Judging by the number of doorbells, the old house had been converted into two flats – one on each floor.
Ögmundur peered over Ari Thór’s shoulder. ‘Do you know the people who live here?’
‘No,’ Ari Thór said, shaking his head. The labels on the doorbells indicated only that the occupants of the groundfloor flat were named Jónína and Jóhann, and that a man by the name of Bjarki lived upstairs.
Ari Thór tried the bell for the downstairs flat. He didn’t have to wait long before the door clicked open. In a doorway at the foot of the stairs stood an elderly man in pyjamas, who seemed wide awake.
‘My wife and I were waiting for you. We’ve been watching what was going on out there,’ the man said with a quiver of hesitation.
Evidently, they must have been standing in the dark, because Ari Thór hadn’t noticed any light in the windows.
‘So, what happened? Who was that, lying in the street? Are they dead?’
‘Can I come in for a moment?’
‘Oh yes, of course,’ the man replied, extending a limp, clammy hand. ‘I’m Jóhann.’
Ari Thór had a sense of foreboding. Something didn’t seem right here. He followed the man into the gloomy flat and, in the living room, saw the shadow of a woman sitting on a sofa, beside a window that looked out onto the street. Presumably, this was Jónína. She didn’t say a word as he approached.
Ari Thór took the lead. ‘I’m sorry to disturb you. A young woman died here tonight. Did you happen to notice anything?’
‘Nothing at all,’ Jóhann replied decisively. ‘Who was it?’
‘I don’t know yet. Perhaps you have an idea? Is there a young woman or a teenage girl who lives in the building?’
‘No, no, just Bjarki upstairs, but … sometimes he rents the flat out to strangers on Airy … oh, heavens, Jónína, what’s it called again?’
His wife remained tight-lipped. They both looked to be well north of seventy. Ari Thór wished he could pick Tómas’s brain. His old boss had known just about everyone in town – where they worked and who was related to whom.
‘Is he at home at the moment, do you think?’
The couple exchanged a glance.
‘I don’t think so,’ Jóhann replied. ‘He’s always coming and going. He spends a lot of time in Reykjavík. But he’s originally from here. I haven’t seen him for a day or two.’
Jónína finally opened her mouth. ‘No, he’s not at home.’ Her words were quiet but were said with conviction. ‘I would have run into him, or at least heard if he was here.’
‘You can’t see everything, darling. We can’t know all the comings and goings in the building, can we?’
His words seemed stilted, as if he were trying to send his wife a message. Ari Thór looked out the window and realised that anyone standing there probably wouldn’t be able to see who was ringing the doorbell.
‘When you said he was from here, did you mean him, or his family?’ he asked.
‘Him. He’s a Siglufjörður boy,’ Jónína replied. ‘I remember his father. Bjarki was born here, then the family moved away, like so many others. Once the herring had all gone, there wasn’t much to do around here.’
‘Now, people are coming back and it’s bringing life to the town again,’ Jóhann added.
‘We never left, of course,’ said Jónína, folding her arms across her chest with a frown, as if to signal the end of the conversation.
‘How do you get up to the balcony?’ Ari Thór asked.
‘The balcony? Why do you want to know that?’ Jóhann seemed to have forgotten why the police were there. Then: ‘Oh, yes, of course. Let me show you the way. There’s a door off the attic, up in the eaves. In the old days, that space saw more use than it does now. Bjarki’s grandparents used to live in this house. Then it was converted into flats and we bought the place on the ground floor. We were wanting to downsize, you see. Before we moved in here we had a detached house a bit further out of town, but it was so much work to keep it looking nice. Anyway, they made the attic into a common space for both flats, more of a place to store things than to spend any time. It’s too cold up there to sit around. And we never go out onto that balcony. Jónína has no end of trouble getting up the stairs. And I doubt Bjarki spends much time out there either. He’s always got his nose buried in his books. A fine young man, he is,’ Jóhann added with a smile.
Raise your hand if you’re excited (and maybe slightly sad) to get the opportunity to hang out with Ari Thór one last time! 🙋🏼♀️
| 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 2015n with Nightblind (winner of the Dead Good Reads Most Captivating Crime in Translation Award) and then Blackout, Rupture and Whiteout following soon after. To date, Ragnar Jónasson has written five 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.