The Icelandic writer plunges us into an extremely tense atmosphere, where the slightest thought, the slightest gesture contributes to making an already distressing atmosphere unbearable. A stifling thriller.

Friendship, like love, usually ends badly. Especially when the ghosts of the past stubbornly refuse to die. The living carry with them the recalcitrant corpses of the past. With a considerable risk: living, on a daily basis, with death as their only companion. With an acute sense of direction, Ragnar Jonasson locks us in A qui la faute (La Martinière Noir) during a whole night in a stifling camera.

Agatha Christie under the snow
Four childhood friends meet up for a snow partridge hunting trip in the highlands of eastern Iceland. “It wasn’t supposed to snow. Not right away. And yet, the gusts of wind were now coming down on them violently, relentlessly.” Caught in a storm as sudden as violent, they take refuge in a cabin. To the characters, to the readers, the Icelandic writer seems to say: welcome to hell, you who enter here, abandon all hope.

In the cabin, they discover an intruder as frightening as he is silent. The night is long. Resentments and grudges resurface, next to the silent stranger. Friendship is put to the test. Were the four friends really friends in the past? Isn’t the past too heavy because of the silent words, the selective memories? With a nervous writing, narrating the events from the point of view of each protagonist, Ragnar Jonasson blurs all the marks and holds us in suspense until the last page, until the last line. Whose fault it is is somewhere between Agatha Christie (of which the author is a great fan and translator into Icelandic) in the snow and Quentin Tarentino’s Reservoir Dogs. A chilling Nordic thriller.

“A qui la faute”, Ragnar Jonasson, published by La Martinière Noir, 21,5 euros

Excerpts : “And the blizzard had broken loose, brutal and terrifying, taking him by surprise. A violent gust of wind had blown on the icy ground, forcing them to stop to avoid falling. The next moment, huge black clouds were hurtling towards them at incredible speed, darkening the sky and filling the air with blinding swirls of snow. (…) It was such a beautiful day. But Daniel should have known that it was when you least expected it that nature was most cruel, especially in Iceland. She had no mercy, you were never quite safe. Even the sunniest summer days could be deadly if you were not careful.