RUPTURE by Ragnar Jonasson
Dark Iceland #4; Orenda Books
CBTB Rating: 4/5
The Verdict: an atmospheric, immersive classic mystery
Ragnar Jonasson’s Dark Iceland series is perfect reading material for fans of classic mysteries, and the newest series installment, RUPTURE, is no exception. RUPTURE is a layered, immersive story weaving together three mysteries: a cold case, a missing child, and a hit-and-run accident. The threads of this mystery come together slowly but surely, drawing the reader deeper into its chilling core.
RUPTURE finds series protagonist Ari Thor investigating a cold case. In 1955, two young couples moved to an isolated fjord not far from Siglufjordur. Under mysterious circumstances, one of the women died - supposedly from an accidental ingestion of rat poison. In the present day, a photo of the couples is found, and it becomes clear that they might not have been alone at all… Meanwhile, reporter Isrun (previously seen in BLACKOUT) is investigating a case of her own—a case with far-reaching implications. When a child goes missing, and a man is killed, it becomes clear that the past might be coming back to haunt Ari Thor and Isrun.
My favorite aspect of RUPTURE is the same quality that I have loved about all of Ragnar's books—his vivid, immersive writing. The mysteries in Ragnar’s books are tied inextricably to the land upon which they’re set, and Ragnar’s writing transports readers to the small towns and fjords that provide the backdrops for these cases. Ragnar doesn’t tell you what it’s like to be there, in that town or on that mountain—he makes you feel it for yourself, using language that conjures up all the claustrophobia or fear or awe that his characters themselves feel. In the following quote from RUPTURE, Ari Thor finds himself visiting the isolated fjord at the center of his cold case:
“The cold hand of solitude rested on his shoulder, the gloom sent shivers down his back and the darkness made him want to shut his eyes rather than look around him. The certainty of the familiar blackness as his eyelids closed was more comfortable than whatever might be there in the unknown night.”
While reading those lines, I knew exactly what Ari Thor was feeling in that moment. That’s the magic of Ragnar’s writing, and that’s what keeps me coming back for more with his series. Yes, these books discuss intriguing and chilling mysteries, but it's Ragnar's unique voice as an author that has truly drawn me in.
I will admit, when I first dipped into RUPTURE, I was slightly uncertain how the story’s multiple mysteries would tie together. Readers are introduced to a whole variety of characters and cases from the very beginning of the book, and I had a hard time imagining how they would intersect. But the more I read, the more at ease I felt—Ragnar's plotting is very intentional, and as the book progressed, I became fully swept up in its mysteries. Slowly but surely, Ragnar ties together the plot threads of this book to create a portrait of two past crimes, and explores the snowball effect that they have had over the years. As always, Ragnar writes with a style similar to Agatha Christie, drawing the reader into a mystery that only the book’s main character can solve. The ending of this book conjured up all kinds of Christie references for me, as Ari Thor lays out his findings to both the story's characters and its readers. I certainly never saw the story's ending coming, and I loved discovering how Ari Thor had tied together all those loose ends to reveal the truth.
It's also worth mentioning how much I've loved getting to know the character of Isrun in this series. Isrun is a reporter working in Reykjavik, and in RUPTURE she assists Ari Thor with interviews relating to the cold case he is pursuing. Isrun is a bit of a tragic figure—she has a personal secret that keeps her from fully connecting with those around her. I found her to be such a great addition to RUPTURE. Her approach to investigations is quite different from Ari Thor, and they balanced each other out beautifully. I absolutely hope to see more of her in the next Dark Iceland book.
The Dark Iceland series is an excellent choice for fans of slow-burning, classic mysteries. It’s definitely not your typical Nordic Noir—it’s neither violent nor particularly gritty. Instead, these books are written with an elegance and delicate intelligence that will delight readers of Agatha Christie. If you’re looking for a mystery to immerse yourself in this winter, the Dark Iceland books are a great choice.
Plus: A bit more about the Dark Iceland series!
I often get asked whether or not you need to read these books in order. These books each present a standalone case, but I am personally glad that I’ve read them in order! You don’t necessarily need to, but I have enjoyed watching the relationships between characters develop over the series.
If you're interested in learning more about the Dark Iceland series, check out my previous Dark Iceland reviews, and a Q&A with Ragnar himself - all linked below!
American Readers: you can purchase RUPTURE and the entire Dark Iceland series on BookDepository! SNOWBLIND (Book 1) will also be published in the US at the end of this month, which means you'll soon be seeing Ragnar's books in your favorite local bookstore.
Thank you to Karen of Orenda Books for allowing me to participate in this blog tour! Remember to check out the next stops on the RUPTURE blog tour - full schedule below!