I review Blackout, the third book in the Dark Iceland series by Ragnar Jónasson.
Many thanks to Orenda Books for providing a review copy!
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.
We are huge, unapologetic Ragnar Jónasson fans here at The Bandwagon, not just because of his excellent name, and Blackout only serves to increase that love. The events in Blackout occur in June 2010, following the first book, Snowblind. So if you’re wondering why the characters aren’t where you left them in Nightblind, that’s why.
Blackout begins with a tourist making his way around the beautiful Icelandic landscape. He stumbles upon a man who has been brutally murdered, and so begins our descent into an incredibly dark story.
Jónasson’s characters are always incredibly well-crafted; even the relatively minor characters are enticing, their lives fascinating. I’m actually not a huge fan of Ari Thór; I find him childish and annoying at times. But the beauty of Jónasson’s writing is that, even if you don’t like the main character, you’re still drawn into the story by the supporting cast.
The revelations in Blackout are dark. Human trafficking, rape, and memories of sexual and physical abuse plague several of the characters, but Jónasson explores these important themes with grace and sensitivity. Reykjavik is under a volcanic ash cloud, and this use of location and pathetic fallacy is just one way Jónasson tells a gripping story. It’s a classic whodunit, but the suspense doesn’t stop there. As with any good crime drama, it’s the why that’s the most thrilling.
Blackout is an excellent addition to the already fantastic Dark Iceland series. Wonderfully translated by the talented Quentin Bates, Jónasson manages to capture the rugged beauty of Iceland, the safest place in the world; and drags you into the dark underbelly.