Day three of Mandie’s Dark Iceland journey and another chance to get some inspiration ahead of Jolabokafloð. Today Mandie is reviewing book three in the series, Black Out by Ragnar Jónasson. This book was set in the time of the big volcanic eruption of 2010 when Eyjafjallajokull decided to wake up, grounding flights and leading to general international chaos. I remember the time well and you can read my thoughts on the book right here. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
As the light of the arctic summer is transformed into darkness by a recent volcanic eruption, Icelandic police officer Ari Thór Arason take on an increasingly perplexing case, when a young man is discovered brutally beaten to death on the shores of a tranquil fjord…
On the shores of a tranquil fjord in Northern Iceland, a man is brutally beaten to death on a bright summer’s night. As the 24-hour light of the arctic summer is transformed into darkness by an ash cloud from a recent volcanic eruption, a young reporter leaves Reykajvik to investigate on her own, unaware that an innocent person’s life hangs in the balance.
Ari Thór Arason and his colleagues on the tiny police force in Siglufjörður struggle with an increasingly perplexing case, while their own serious personal problems push them to the limit. What secrets does the dead man harbour, and what is the young reporter hiding? As silent, unspoken horrors from the past threaten them all, and the darkness deepens, it’s a race against time to find the killer before someone else dies…
Dark, terrifying and complex, Blackout is an exceptional, atmospheric thriller from one of Iceland’s finest crime writers.
If you wondered what happened to Ari Thór Arason in the time between the setting of Snowblind and Nightblind then this book will certainly start to fill in some of the gaps. Having finally settled into the job he has separated from his girlfriend and is now concentrating on his career. When the body of a man is found outside a house in Skagafjörður, Ari Thór and his boss Tómas are called in to assist in the investigations due to the links the man has to Siglufjörður. In this book we meet Ísrún, a reporter who initially has her own reasons for visiting the area but soon finds herself investigating the murder.
The book is told though both Ísrún and Ari Thór and I quite like this dual perspective as it shows the investigations from different angles although I am not sure either of them was expecting the case to go in the direction that it did. With everyone clearly hiding things and the disturbing topic of human trafficking at its heart they have their work cut out for them. Although they were only initially helping out with the investigation from the Siglufjörður links you know that eventually Ari Thór will want to know more and slowly but surely weave his way further into the case as his professional integrity and natural curiosity take over.
What I really liked about Blackout is that even with everything going on we get to learn more about the personal lives of Ari Thór, Tómas and the third member of the team, Hlynur. Each one of them has things going on that distract them from their day job, especially Hlynur as things from his past seem to be catching up with him and you have to wonder if you ever really can make a fresh start as long as there are people out there who know what you have done.
Each book has multiple stories in them that on the face of it look like they have little to do with each other yet by the end you can clearly see the links that bind them together and everything just falls into place and makes sense. As ever Ragnar Jónasson gives the reader a truly mesmerising view of Iceland with his descriptions of the people, culture and landscapes that help make this series a must read.
About the Author
Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavík, and currently works as a lawyer, while teacher 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.
Books by Ragnar Jónasson