It sometimes feels as if everyone in Iceland is writing crime novels but the first appearance of Ragnar Jonasson in English translation (itself a fluid adaptation by British mystery writer Quentin Bates) is cause for celebration. Previously known as a major Agatha Christie translator, he brings that experience to bear on the clever way he weaves the intricacy of small village activities into life, with a slightly darker hue, in his dead Iceland series of which this is the first to be issued here. Ari Thor Arason is a young policeman on his first out of city posting, in a small fishing village in Northern Iceland accessible only by a tunnel. When murder hits the small knit community, Ari, a fish out of water, pining for his distant girlfriend, has to summon his inner fibre and unthread the complex strands of the enquiry amongst a bout of harsh weather that is as much a character in the book as the village's inhabitants. First class classic detection with a frozen twist. ~ Maxim Jakubowski A Maxim Jakubowski selected title.
This truly is a crime novel to tamper with your thoughts and send them skittering off in all directions. ‘Blackout’ takes place in June 2010, following on from ‘Snowblind’, the first in the ‘Dark Iceland’ series. A fascinating murder investigation by police and a reporter takes place during the time the ash cloud from a volcanic eruption affected the country and air travel, ensuring a heightened sense of foreboding and tension. A number of main characters feature, including self reliant Ari Thor Arason, who polices the most northerly village in Iceland, and Isrun, a TV news reporter. I have to admit it did take me a little time to get to know all of the characters, however I do believe ‘Blackout’ works well as a standalone novel. Ragnar Jonasson writes with a bitingly sparse, to the point style, and Quentin Bates has translated his words skilfully, ensuring the story flows. The first part of the novel sews confusion and encourages questions, it almost feels as though two or three jigsaws of information have been thrown into the air to land in one jumbled pile. With several menacing stories, creeping and melding into one, ‘Blackout’ is a wonderfully gripping and gritty novel.
An artful and intriguing story set in a remote Icelandic landscape. As a highly contagious fever forces his village into quarantine, Ari Thor begins to investigate an ice cold case. He enlists the help of reporter Isrun from ‘Blackout’ and a further crime begins to coil around them. This is the fourth in the ‘Dark Iceland’ series, I feel that it is best to start with ‘Snowblind’ in order to understand Ari, and as importantly, the area he works in. Iceland sits centre stage, the island is brought to sharp, vivid life. Ragnar Jonasson excels in running several investigations in one story, separate strands waiting for links and connections. Foreboding lies in wait and throws darts of disquiet, and my mind scuttled to and fro as I collected information and joined in the investigation. History and time are essential to the storyline and echo with striking vibrancy, ensuring ‘Rupture’ just throbs with dramatic intensity and is a riveting read. ~ Liz Robinson A Piece of Passion from the Publisher... In a rather strange turn of events, I met Ragnar Jonasson playing football for England, at the annual England v Scotland football match at Bloody Scotland crime festival, and he told me about his Dark Iceland series. Ragnar appeared on a panel, and I watched readers queue up for books that did not yet exist in English. I learned that Ragnar had translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and that the setting of the Dark Iceland series was Siglufjörður, a tiny town at the top of Iceland, bound on one side by the sea and on the other by mountains, only accessible by a single mountain tunnel that was often closed by snowstorms and avalanches. The perfect locked-room mystery. So, almost sight unseen, I bought the series, and Snowblind was published seven months later, beautifully translated by Quentin Bates. It went almost instantly to number one on the kindle charts, and a star was born! From there, we haven’t looked back, and every title that has followed (Nightblind and Blackout) has sold in the tens of thousands and attracted a legion of fans and fabulous reviews. Rupture is a brilliant addition to the series, dark, chilling, beautifully written, atmospheric and full of masterful plotting and unforgettable characters. We follow police officer Ari Thor, as he tries to solve a cold case, with the town in quarantine and a stalker on the lose. I can’t speak highly enough of Ragnar and this series. The books are a gorgeous combination of Golden Age crime and Nordic Noir and there is, quite simply, nothing like them. I am honoured to publish Ragnar! ~ Karen Sullivan, Orenda Books Click here to read a Q&A with Ragnar Jonasson about this book.
This is a gripping, biting crime mystery set in northern Iceland, and the fifth novel in the ‘Dark Iceland’ series. Do start at the beginning of the series with the ‘Snowblind’, as these books deserve to be, and should be read in order. Ari Thor investigates the death of a young woman found at the bottom of cliffs, is it murder, or an accident? The chillingly simple prologue shocks, creating echoes that remain throughout the book. Ragnar Jonasson introduces new characters slowly, allowing a quiet unease to settle over the pages as they enter your thoughts. The Icelandic christmas traditions hover, creating moments of warmth and love that highlight the grim nature of the tale. Translator Quentin Bates continues to ensure the words flow from the page, with no interruption or separation from the storyline. ‘Whiteout’ confirms Jonasson’s series as a must read, it is compelling, thrilling, and just so, so entertaining. Liz Robinson
Siglufjordur: an idyllically quiet fishing village on the northernmost tip of Iceland, accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thor Arason: a local policeman, whose tumultuous past and uneasy relationships with the villagers continue to haunt him. The peace of this close-knit community is shattered by the murder of a policeman - shot at point-blank range in the dead of night in a deserted house. With a killer on the loose and the dark arctic winter closing in, it falls to Ari Thor to piece together a puzzle that involves tangled local politics, a compromised new mayor, and a psychiatric ward in Reykjavik, where someone is being held against their will. Then a mysterious young woman moves to the area, on the run from something she dare not reveal, and it becomes all too clear that tragic events from the past are weaving a sinister spell that may threaten them all. Dark, chilling and complex, Nightblind is an extraordinary thriller from an undeniable new talent.
Taut, tenacious storytelling squeezes thoughts and feelings in this chilling read. Winterkill continues the Dark Iceland series in Iceland’s most northerly town as a snow storm hits. A 19 year old falls to her death, and a diary entry suggests that it wasn’t an accident while a man in a nursing home writes “she was murdered” on the wall of his room. This is the sixth and apparently last in a series that pulses with chilling atmosphere and energy. Translated from the French edition by David Warriner, he ensures Ragnar Jonasson’s trademark biting and uncomplicated style is allowed freedom to sing. Now an Inspector, Ari Thor Arason is as fascinating as ever. The storyline contains several strands, interesting characters, and Ari’s complicated relationships. This particular investigation has an unsettling and sad overtone, that lingers after finishing. Winterkill is a satisfying conclusion to a stimulating and readable series.