Blackout by Ragnar Jónasson

So dark! Is it a cloud? Is it ash? Is it the atmosphere?

blackuotBlackout by Ragnar Jónasson

Genres: Crime, Mystery, Nordic Noir
Published: 1st January, 2011
Series: Dark Iceland #2
Rating: 3

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 …


For such a short book, this one had quite a lot going on. Blackout was a rather unusual mystery in the sense that there wasn’t all that much policing going on. Ragnar Jonasson told multiple stories side by side and some of those eventually connected at the end and few of them were even vaguely related to the murder on hand.

Two years after the events of Snowblind, Ari Thór is still working in Siglufjörður, still pining after her ex-girlfriend, Kristin whom he sort of dumped when he moved to this godforsaken tiny town. There’s quite a lot of focus on his inner turmoil, and we also get to see a side of him that isn’t particularly pleasant. While I liked his gentle and caring manner in the previous book, I didn’t find much fondness for his hotheaded and rough approach this time around. He certainly found the time to turn bitter with regret, and Kristin moving closer to him for work didn’t help putting him out of his misery either.

Another story line follows Hlynur, the third police officer working at Ari’s station, and we get to know his dark past that still casts a shadow on his current life.

The major attraction however is the brutal murder of a man who was not liked by many, except his landlady, Nora – but she’s the sort of woman who seems to like anything with a penis, so it doesn’t really count. Ari Thór and his colleagues are not leading the investigation, but still halfheartedly interview some local folks, just so nobody can say they are not doing anything. The police from Akureyri is running the show, but it seems most of the actual detective work is done by Isrun, a journalist from Reykjavik who of course has her own agenda. A very confusing I might add, run on two timelines, and one seemingly has nothing to do with the other.

Some seriously heinous stuff comes to light, and the devastation it leaves behind spreads like the ash cloud everyone seems to be obsessing about. I feel like I could have used another, deeper layer to the sotry to learn a bit more about these people, but it was still quite captivating.

The atmosphere was just as ominous as in the first book, but the confusing timelines kind of took away from the enjoyment. When you need to read back a whole chapter just to figure when something was happening, you know something went a bit sideways. There was a lot of mention of the ash cloud from the volcanic eruption, obviously adding an menacing tone to everything, but after a while it just got old. Ok, there’s a cloud, and it’s dark, we get it.

Mind you, even the English publication is running on its own timeline, because the books came out in a somewhat random order. The author actually posted how the series goes. Sadly, the first book was never published in English.

1. Fölsk nóta
2. Snjóblinda (Snowblind)
3. Myrknætti (Blackout)
4. Rof (Rupture)
5. Andköf (Whiteout)
6. Nàttblinda (Nightblind)3

Have you ever visited Iceland? Do you want to?

P.S. How cool are these covers? They are both for the German version.


  1. As always, love your review, Norrie;) I have two of Ragnar’s books on my shelf which I, of course, haven’t read yet. I’ve heard such great things about them, so it’s good to hear a more balanced (and honest!) opinion. Nonetheless, I’m now more curious than ever to read them as soon as possible!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, i hope you like them! I think this series is defo very strong on atmosphere and the ominous vibes. Just read the book after this one recently – while i liked it more, the translation/editing was rather meh :/

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been to Iceland and I’d love to go back when it’s not covered in snow! Also I’m dying to meet a puffin 😂 I’ve read 1 Ragnar book, I forget the title, and it wasn’t a huge success for me but I still have Snowblind on the TBR so there’s still chance for redemption 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d love to visit! But i’m always so cold, it’s prolly not my sort of place for a long stay 😀 Hehe.
      My friend went to some puffin place but not to Iceland – somewhere in UK, but i don’t remember where exactly. Wales maybe??
      Snowblind is so good! It was more like the usual mysteries with investigations and such.


  3. While I love a lot of Nordic Noir, sometimes it come across a little too depressing for me, never mind the violence. One of the reasons I was never able to get into Wallander. And, as Jonetta mentions, sometimes things get lost in translation. Those nuances that make all the difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never read Wallander. I think i tried to watch the series… :/
      This series i wouldn’t call particularly violent or graphic. Mons Kallentoft’s series… now that’s pretty brutal.


      1. Wallander wasn’t the violence, but the feeling everyone was about to commit suicide from boredom, including viewers. But violence was why I stopped watching Criminal Minds, that went from them solving the case, to being all about a brutal or violent act. Books are usually less graphic because we read them, and make our own visuals.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. That is indeed true! Seems like the series is going to this direction with the multiple stories – just finished the next book and it was the same thing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.