It had been an evening like any other, spent stretched out on the sofa.Rupture, Chapter 1, page 1
Author: Ragnar Jónasson
Publication Date: December 24th 2016
Publisher: Orenda Books
Find it on: Amazon, Goodreads
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.From Goodreads
The opening lines of this book four of Ragnar’s atmospheric Ari Thór crime series is significantly calmer than the others, starting leisurely on a sofa before delving into the action. Tone is uncommonly peaceful and mundane at first until readers are thrown into a mix of past and present. Ari digs into a cold case investigation as Isrún and local police in the neighboring town rush to solve a recent killing and kidnapping before more people get hurt.
Back again in the northern town of Siglufjörður Ari now has three years under his belt. Because it’s so tight knit he still remains an outsider to native residents with stronger roots, but experience has given him confidence. Ari’s superior, Tómas, plays a reduced role as he considers moving to join his wife down south but in the mean time Ari and his colleague are in the midst of what else but a quarantine. A highly contagious infectious disease plagues the town, leading to a lockdown, travel ban, and contact tracing (sound familiar?) 😂. These circumstances and the current situation today make the isolated setting even more poignant.
Being locked down with most of the town waiting it out indoors, Ari cracks into a cold case by request of a gentleman who visits with a curious photograph. An unknown young man holds the child (now the visitor many years later) but no one can identify him and no records exist of his visit. Around that time according to files and local hearsay the Aunt tragically committed suicide by drinking rat poison – was it intentional, an honest mistake, or something more sinister? Ari, assisted remotely by returning reporter Isrún and girlfriend Kristín, endeavor to reveal the truth of events leading up to that fateful day.
Meanwhile, Isrún has even more on her plate. Having finally gotten into her manager’s good graces she takes head following the local town’s unprecedented kidnapping and the depths of deception around it. Her role in this book is quite significant, having thumbs in all the main points of action. Isrún is a sympathetic but powerful character, dealing not only with her emotional, high pressure journalistic work but now also with the drama of her parent’s unhappy separation and the heavy toll of a chronic genetic illness. Although Ari is strong and engaging as a character in his own right, Isrún really speaks in these pages and elevates the story. Between the prior book where she was first introduced and here where she’s more fleshed out Isrún has quickly become a favorite character.
I read this book once prior, not knowing it was smack in the middle of this series. At the time it was middle-tier. Re-reading now I was curious to see if my enjoyment increased having caught up on the rest of the series leading up to it.
Reader, it did.
I’d highly recommend this book not only based on the the fresh plot spin and quality writing, but because Isrún is such a stellar, enjoyable character to follow. As usual Ragnar still delivers on the moody, brooding Icelandic setting to complement the high tension investigative action. Another great book all the way around!
TW: rape, infidelity, pandemic, chronic illness, kidnapping, divorce
Cover background photo by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash