Book Reviews

Lazy Saturday Review: Blackout by Ragnar Jonasson @ragnarjo @OrendaBooks


From LipsyyI started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

Note from me: My lazy reviews are usually for books I did enjoy!

blackoutTitle: Blackout
Author: Ragnar Jonasson
Translation: Quentin Bates
Publisher: Orenda Books
Date of publication: July 16th 2016
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 442
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ and a half

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…Dark, terrifying and complex, Blackout is an exceptional, atmospheric thriller from one of Iceland’s finest crime writers.

Thanks to my amazing friend bloggers, I decided to read Blackout before the second book in the series to avoid any spoilers! Thank you girls!


I’ve decided all reviews for books in a series that are not the first installment would only get a quicky. Why? Because you can’t really delve into anything without any spoiler, which reduces your talking points options! This is why Blackout won’t get a full in depth analysis, the poor baby. But I still have things to mention that deserve some time and space!

First of all, it felt incredibly good to be back in the north of Iceland. Don’t ask me to type the town’s name, please, I already have a hard time reading it! The atmosphere hasn’t changed since Ari Thor’s arrival, he just started blending in. Or has he? I still feel some resistance from him as to truly committing to the town, which is normal, he is a young man with hopes and a broken heart. You can’t ask him to forget there’s a world outside his little place and stay there until he loses his teeth at an old age. Now off the the less good about Ari Thor… Is it me, or was he particularly selfish in this story? I loved seeing his temper and personality take a stronger shape, for sure, but it seemed to me the guy was lost and quite unable to see what was around him, too focused on his own issues. At some point, I felt it did not add anything to the plot, but it was interesting to learn about a new side of him.

Well, this is the case for everyone in Blackout. Everyone is stuck in their glass bowl and cannot be bothered or find the time to check on others. You know, like when you see someone not feeling good, when you sense something is wrong, but you’re called by duty, by a beer, by your own problems, and you think “I’ll get to it tomorrow.” Except it’s a dangerous game. For you, maybe not, but for those around who slowly sink into a deep and cold water. Blackout is a dive into a multitude of personal lives, it allows the reader to get to know its characters better while separating them at the same time. I knew something bad was coming, I could feel the freezing case of a mistake about to be made, and I had no power to stop it. It was engrossing and heart-breaking.

I am really fond of the way Ragnar Jonasson plays with an array of narrations, seemingly unrelated, and takes you on several journeys which only have one single and shared ending. Few authors can manage so many threads at once without losing focus or balance it with a good enough investigation to keep the reader hooked.

I must admire the translation once again, for it felt as if I were seeing another language transforming itself in front of my eyes in a very simple way so I could decipher it. And we all know translating is everything but simple!

Blackout felt more character-driven than plot-driven, which was both a good thing, and a regret. I love life there, but the murder had a hard time making me want to play detective and look for answers. Still, the perfectly weaved plot was interesting enough to support the other events happening, and I enjoyed life at the other side of the world!

My thanks goes to Karen Sullivan for providing me with a copy of the book.

You can find the book online and in the best bookstores or on Orenda Books’ eBookstore


ragnar jonasson

Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavik in 1976, and currently works as a lawyer, while teaching copyright law at the Reykjavik University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavik, and is co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir, selected by the Guardian as one of the ‘best crime-writing festivals around the world’. Ragnar Jónasson has written five novels in the Dark Iceland series, and he is currently working on his sixth. He lives in Reykjavik with his wife and two daughters. Nightblind will be published by Orenda Books in 2016.

You can find him on Twitter @ragnarjo

about the translator

5 things about quentin bates

Quentin Bates escaped English suburbia as a teenager, jumping at the chance of a gap year working in Iceland. For a variety of reasons, the gap year stretched to become a gap decade, during which time he went native in the north of Iceland, acquiring a new language, a new profession as a seaman and a family before decamping en masse for England. He worked as a truck driver, teacher, netmaker and trawlerman at various times before falling into journalism largely by accident. He has been the technical editor of a nautical magazine for many years, all the while keeping a close eye on his second home in Iceland, before taking a sidestep into writing fiction. He is the author of a series of crime novels set in present-day Iceland (Frozen Out, Cold Steal, Chilled to the Bone, Winterlude, and Cold Comfort), which have been published in the UK, USA, Germany, Holland, Finland and Poland. He has translated a great deal of news and technical material into English from Icelandic, as well as one novel (Gudlaugur Arason’s Bowline). He’s currently working on translating Ragnar Jonasson’s stories.

Find Quentin on Twitter @graskeggur


23 thoughts on “Lazy Saturday Review: Blackout by Ragnar Jonasson @ragnarjo @OrendaBooks”

  1. Ohh Iceland! I’ve had his books on my wishlist for too long and definitely need to get the first book of the series soon… And I agree, it’s very hard writing reviews of sequels without a spoiler or two slipping in… Your lazy reviews are always wonderful anyway. ❤


  2. Great review for this book Meggy, and I’m really glad you enjoyed it as well. 😀
    It’s both a good thing the character driven aspects of this story worked well for you and a bad thing that it meant you couldn’t get behind the murder investigation the way you normally would. At least the character-driven aspects were well written though, there’s nothing worse than badly developed characters in a story. 🙂


  3. A quicky review for sequels sounds like a nice idea! People who haven’t read the series at all will probably enjoy these reviews even more since there’s always that fear for spoilers and also that lack of desire to read about a sequel when you haven’t even read the first book you know? 😛 Fantastic review, Meggy! I liked how you saw differences between this and the book before!


    1. Thanks a lot! I love your comments, they always tell me what works! 🙂 I find sequels to be so difficult to review, I feel there’s not other choice than to limit myself to small reviews, with more analysis on feelings than on the book itself! Thanks again xxx

      Liked by 1 person

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 )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter 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.