Snowblind (Dark Iceland) - Quentin Bates, Ragnar Jónasson

I must be missing something here. "Snowblind" attracts lots of four and five-star reviews and is the first book in the best-selling "Dark Iceland" quintet, yet I found it fundamentally unsatisfying.

I'm told the language is poetic. I can see that it's trying to be. I quite liked the way in which Jonasson expresses the soft oppression of never-ending snow in phrases like

    "The freezing darkness swallowed him up."


    "He had tried to listen to classical music to drown out the deafening silence of the incessant snowfall, but it was as if the music magnified the gloom."

It works but it's not exceptional.

I'm familiar with snow and deep cold and the claustrophobia that living beneath a mountain can bring. They're well captured here but not well enough to sustain the book.

The plot stretches my willingness to suspend disbelief and the way in which our young policeman unravelled the secrets seemed to me too hard to swallow. The man isn't just intuitive, he's psychic.

I think the heart of my dissatisfaction with this book is the policeman Ari Thor. I could not find a reason to care for him. He seems an empty man. He starts many things but finishes none. He ties himself in knots about integrity and gets indignant about love and yet is too weak to live to either standard. I know he's young but if he's that callow, where's the interest?

If you fancy a Miss Marple in the snow, set around an Icelandic village drama society rather than an English one and with modern accents, local colour and the occasional stab at the lyrical, then this is the book for you.

I'm sure it would make great television. All the moody camera work and mournful atonal music could fill the gaps where the rest of the novel should be.

I had a similar reaction to Ann Cleaves' "Raven Black" and that made great television and has a huge fan base so perhaps I'm just not equipped to savour this kind of book.

I don't think that's going to change so I'll pass on the rest of the "Dark Iceland" quintet.