Book Review - Blackout by Ragnar Jonasson

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.

Although the third Dark Iceland book to be published in the UK, Blackout actually takes place between the events in Snowblind and Nightblind, After reading the three books I would actually recommend reading them chronologically rather than as published here, so this one after Snowblind. However, I don't really feel it spoilt my enjoyment of either this book or Nightblind, it just seems to make more sense to read them in order.
Ari Thór Arason is settling into life in Siglufjörður, the claustrophobia that he so struggled with when he first moved to the tiny community now far more manageable and at at a time when much of Iceland has been thrust into an unseasonal darkness by thick ash clouds following a volcanic eruption, the little town in Northern Iceland, and Ari Thór himself should be enjoying the long summer days. However, a brutal murder nearby sees the officers of Siglufjörður's police force drawn into a case that crosses borders and the decades. Meanwhile Ísrún, a young reporter has made the journey from  Reykjavík to investigate the case too. Is she just an ambitious journalist eager for the scoop to further her career or are have her own secrets led her to becoming personally invested in discovering the truth?
As with the previous books I've read in this series, the dark truth is gradually revealed as the truth is unravelled; once again the narrative switches between characters and flashbacks to past events that expose the grim reality of what happens behind closed doors. Everyone has their secrets, the things they can't forget or the things they can't atone for. It's not only the victims and perpetrators here whose lives have been irrevocably changed by the choices they've made, or by the actions of others. So too the lives of the police officers in Siglufjörður, each struggling in their own way to make sense of their past and the need to make decisions about their future. As the mystery to who killed the dead man is solved, not everyone can reconcile themselves to their previous lives.
Once again Ragnar Jonasson has written a superbly atmospheric thriller, Blackout combines the  traditional whodunnit with a contemporary look at international crime and the all too constant themes of hidden depravity and brutality. It may be the inhabitants of  Reykjavik who are struggling with the ash poisoned air but we are reminded again that all communities are tainted by horrific secrets. It's probably the most tense of the books so far, Ari Thor and his fellow officers not just vying to solve one murder but also desperately trying to stop another. As the book progressed I raced through the pages, heart in mouth never knowing what the final resolution would be. Blackout is another thoroughly enjoyable thriller and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I'm drawn back into the classy web of intrigue and mystery Ragnar Jonasson creates in his superb series.

Blackout is published in the UK by Orenda Books. You can follow Ragnar Jonasson on Twitter as @ragnarjo and Orenda as @OrendaBooks.

About the Author

Ragnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 15 countries and for TV. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he continues to work as a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Ragnar is a member of the UK Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) and set up its first overseas chapter in Reykjavik. He is also the co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.