By Ragnar Jónasson
Published by Orenda Books (Kindle - 30 June 2016; Paperback - 15 July 2016)
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 Thor Arason and his colleagues on the tiny police force in Siglufjordur 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...
I'm a huge fan of Ragnar Jónasson's Dark Iceland series. And there's no doubt that Blackout is his darkest book yet. This is actually set between the two previous books - Snowblind and Nightblind - and shows that the author is an incredibly versatile writer. All of the Dark Iceland novels read like old-fashioned whodunnits set in modern times. But they're certainly NOT formulaic, as each book has given me a completely different reading experience.
While reading Blackout, I felt like I was among old friends, with the book's familiar characters and location. Siglufjordur, where the series is set, is a small close-knit and somewhat claustrophobic community, where everyone knows one another and many of the locals are related. Blackout is set in 2010, right in the middle of the volcanic ash cloud disruption to European air space. This provides an even darker setting than usual and gives the author plenty of scope to write his stunning, vivid and very atmospheric descriptions of the Icelandic landscape.
Local policeman Ari Thor and his colleagues are investigating a brutal murder that took place on the shores of a fjord. Ari Thor takes less of a major role in this book, as a young reporter is conducting her own investigations into the identity of the killer. He's distracted by problems at work and those on the domestic front, fighting his own demons and making some highly rash decisions that he could regret later on.
The plot of Blackout is far more complex than that of the previous Dark Iceland books, with various different strands that at first seemed unrelated. The suspense and intrigue built up gradually with many surprises along the way. And as the jigsaw pieces slotted into place, there were several breath-holding final chapters.
I couldn't wait to read Blackout, so bought it soon after the ebook release. The only drawback now is that I have to wait until Spring 2017 to read the next book, Rupture. Looks like I may have to read all three of the current books again to tide me over until then.