‘There had been no preconceptions about Iceland in her mind; the only things about which she had been certain were that it would be cold, probably snowy, and it might be dark’
Blackout, Chapter 13, Ragnar Jonasson
We have been following author Ragnar Jonasson‘s writing career with interest as his books are translated from Icelandic into English (by Quentin Bates) and published in the UK by Orenda. Ragnar recently appeared at the Edinburgh International Books Festival and is no stranger to book festivals in the UK such as Bloody Scotland, Newcastle Noir and CrimeFest. He is also one of the founder members of the Iceland Noir crime writing festival. His Dark Iceland series has also been optioned for TV by On The Corner so his work is definitely something to explore if you enjoy TV crime fiction as well as books.
This book is third in the series. Blackout finds us once again in the small town of Siglufjordur in northern Iceland. A fairly niche location to set a series in which will appeal to lovers of Iceland and rural Nordic landscapes. Ari Thor, a young policeman, is involved in trying to solve a murder which has everyone as far away as Reykjavik puzzled. As well as the murder we have someone locked up in an unknown location and running out of time which really adds to the pacing of the story.
Unlike Ragnar’s previous books, Snowblind and Nightblind, the reader spends quite some time inside the head of a TV news reporter, Isrun, who is tied up with the case. This made for a bit of a tangled read at the offset but as the strands of the story develop and the characters grow this device adds to the excitement of the tale. Blackout also explores Ari Thor’s personal life and that of his colleagues in the police station. All of this is going on under the blanket of suffocating ash filled air from a festering Icelandic volcano. Ragnar skillfully blends topical subjects with an air of old fashioned mystery and just a sprinkling of menace. Combine reading Ragnar’s Dark Iceland series with Arnaldur Indridason’s Jar City and you will be on one well rounded trip of Icelandic crime fiction.