ICELAND is reeling. Still struggling in the wake of the 2008 financial crash, the country has been struck by a second, equally unexpected blow: the 2010 volcanic eruption and subsequent rumblings of Eyjafjallajökull. An ash cloud is enveloping Reykjavík, polluting the city’s air.
And now a third headline-worthy event has occurred: the gruesome discovery of a body on a building site in the Skagafjörður region fronting the Norwegian Sea. A construction contractor has been beaten to death.
Responsibility for investigating falls to the local police team headed up by two men linked by the shared sadness of relationship breakdowns – Tómas and his protégé, one-time theology student Ari Thór – and their colleague Hlynur, an officer with a haunting secret of his own. Ari Thór’s former girlfriend, Kristín, is now a doctor in Akureyri; Tómas’s wife has moved even further afield, to Reykjavík, and shows no desire to return to the village isolation of remote Siglufjörður.
The capital is home, too, to Ísrún, a psychologist turned TV reporter who immediately bluffs the newsroom chief into allowing her to cover the sensational murder case.
Ari Thór’s questioning leads to an interview with Nóra, a divorcee who travelled the world for much of her adult life before being grounded by the loss of her savings in the economic implosion. Nóra was the murder victim’s landlady, apparently unaware that in a sports bag in his bedroom he kept the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash – cash for which his three tunnel-drilling associates cannot account.
Blackout is the intriguing third book in Jónasson’s Dark Iceland crime series of Nordic noir featuring detective Ari Thór and set in and around real-life Siglufjörður, a one-time herring-fishing port and Iceland’s northernmost town. The two previous offerings, Snowblind and Nightblind, were both Amazon Kindle bestsellers in Australia.