Review: Nightblind by Ragnar Jonasson

Chilling and complex, Nightblind by Ragnar Jonasson is an extraordinary thriller and the second book in the Dark Iceland series.

Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Nightblind, then make sure you're signed in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of Ragnar Jonasson's second Dark Iceland novel and a signed copy of the first in the series, Snowblind!

In Ragnar Jonasson’s second novel (following Snowblind) featuring Ari Thór Arason—a young cop in the tiny fishing village of SiglufjÓ§rdur in Northern Iceland—he’s living with his girlfriend, Kristín, and 10-month-old son, Stefnir. Ari Thór is happy enough, but he tends to dive into his work, neglecting his young family in the process. It doesn’t help that Kristín is restless; the attentions of a handsome doctor at work are hitting their mark and making her wonder if there may be something else out there for her.

Unfortunately for Ari Thór, things are about to get pretty crazy in his small town. His partner, Herjólfer, is at a derelict house in the dark of night when something horrible happens. After he steps out of his car to investigate, a shot rings out. When Herjólfer’s wife contacts Ari Thór, worried that he hasn’t returned home, Ari Thór—in spite of fighting a wicked case of the flu—has no choice but to go look for him. After checking the station, he figures he’s got nothing to lose by checking the only two roads leading out of town. What he finds shocks him:

He knew he wasn’t fit to drive, still half-asleep, sick and weak, and he had to do a double take when he saw the patrol car at the roadside near the Strákar tunnel entrance, next to the old house that had been empty and becoming steadily more dilapidated ever since he had moved to the town.

Growing increasingly uneasy, Ari Thór felt and overwhelming sense of foreboding-almost like a premonition. At that exact moment, he knew that something had happened to Herjólfur. With an adrenaline buzz providing the boost of energy he needed to sideline the flu for a while and think clearly, he pulled up behind the patrol car.

Bracing himself against the freezing rain, his eyes struggling to adjust in the darkness that preceded the dawn, he peered through the car windows, and then opened the doors of the partrol car to see if Herjólfur might be inside.

Empty.

His concern deepening, Ari Thór surveyed the landscape that surrounded him, the high mountain which the road had literally been carved, and the sea on the other side. There was barely room for this single house there on the side of the road, on what was essentially a landfill site, and beyond it was a sheer and deadly drop into the cold, northern sea. There was no light from the house, his jacket pulled tightly around him as the wind whipped the rain into a frenzy, he wondered if anyone would hear him if he called out. And then there was no need.

Ari Thór finds Herjólfer laying in the gravel and, by the amount of blood present, is shocked that he’s still alive. The police department is horrified. An attack like this, especially on a police officer, is highly unusual in such a small, tight-knit place.

Ari Thór is a bit too close to the investigation, so they bring back his former partner, Tómas, who recently took a job in Reykjavík. Ari Thór gets along with Tómas, but it’s also hard to relinquish control of an investigation. It doesn’t help that Herjólfer’s family is giving off a strange vibe—although his son does point to a possible investigation into the dope trade as the reason for Herjólfer’s presence at that house. Ari Thór isn’t so sure, and getting to the bottom of things proves to be daunting. Additionally, the mayor of their small little town seems to be up to no good, adding an unwanted political aspect to the whole affair.

The book is pretty short, and Jonasson’s narrative is a bit rough around the edges—characters aren’t fleshed out nearly as much as I’d like, but maybe some of that is lost in translation. But I do love how Jonasson uses the strange history (and boy is it strange) of the abandoned home to cast an eerie pall over the case and a town reeling from such a violent crime.

Jonasson certainly knows how to write a procedural. The bones—and potential—of a good series are here, and Jonasson has a finger firmly on the sturdy mechanics of old-fashioned mystery with rewards coming after the application of plenty of shoe leather and working the leads. Dealing with people is difficult, and good cops have to be something between a therapist and a law enforcement officer to get usable results. Police work is not a glitzy job; there are a lot of frustration involved, and those frustrations can bleed over into the detectives’ family lives.

More intriguing than the mystery—which is intriguing enough, don’t get me wrong—is Ari Thór. He’s young and has a lot of growing to do, but there’s a core to him that’s determined to do the right thing—sometimes at the expense of his personal life. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out, as there’s plenty of room for him to grow. Add that to a fascinating setting, and you’ve got an author—and a series—to watch.

Read an excerpt from Nightblind!

Comment below for a chance to win a copy of Nightblind and a signed copy of Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson!

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Kristin Centorcelli reviews books at mybookishways.com, loves a good mystery, and is a huge fan of boxed wine. You can also follow her at @mybookishways.

Read all posts by Kristin Centorcelli for Criminal Element.

Comments

  1. Gordon Bingham

    Definitely want to read this one!

  2. Jackie Mungle

    Why was he there in the empty house? Who hurt him? whats the mystery of the hopuse? and what does the dope trade have to do with this? I’ll be waiting to find out.

  3. Karen Hester

    Snowblind is on the reading list for my Scandanavian mystery book group; I would be happy to win.

  4. Susanne Troop

    Sounds great!

  5. Jackie Wisherd

    Always enjoy finding new authors. I would like to read this book.

  6. Michelle Rorke

    I hope this comes out on audiobook!

  7. Betty Levenson

    Looks like an amazing series!

  8. Peter W. Horton Jr.

    The beginning of a journey! Yes!

  9. cathryn w.

    i just can’t wait to start this series !

  10. Jennifer Thompson

    Sounds good! Both are now on my TBR list for sure.

  11. Randal Brandt

    Looks like another fantastic Icelandic crime series. Looking forward to reading it!

  12. Vernon Luckert

    Would love to read this (I have always wanted to visit Iceland).

  13. James Joyce

    That pesky Thor is everywhere, these days!

  14. Karen Mikusak

    Would love to win!

  15. Carolyn

    Looking forward to reading this book!

  16. Karen Barnett

    WOW!! Count me in, please!

  17. Karen Barnett

    WOW!! Count me in, please!

  18. Anne Kennedy

    Really looking forward to this!

  19. Joanne Mielczarski

    This book is already on my wish list.

  20. Pearl Berger

    Fascinating.

  21. Lori Provenzano

    Was a time I wanted to visit Iceland. Nowadays, not so sure, given thrillers like this. Would still like to reat the book, though.

  22. pearl berger

    Intriguing.

  23. Michael Carter

    I would love to win.
    Yes, please enter me in this sweepstakes.
    Thanks!

  24. ellie lewis

    Thanks. Sounds thrilling.

  25. pat murphy

    Sounds wonderful .

  26. Robin Weatherington

    [b]Can’t wait![/b]

  27. michael sturm

    First book Snowblind was excellent. Can’t wait to read book #2!

  28. vickie dailey

    not very familiar with iceland. Ari Thor sounds like an intersting new character to check out

  29. Pat Murphy

    Count me in. Iceland on my bucket list

  30. Vicki Stokes

    I fell lucky!

  31. susan beamon

    I belong to a book club that reads a different genre each month. These books would fill in the Scandanavian mystery genre when it comes up.

  32. Amy Drees

    I love Sandanvian mysteries! So glad to find another great author.

  33. Andrew Jensen

    Having read SnowBlind I’m looking forward to NightBlind. Would buy even if I don’t win a copy.

  34. Suzanne McMannis

    Good start- would love to read more.

  35. Karl Stenger

    I love Jonasson’s novels.

  36. lasvegasnv

    interesting

  37. Katrina Yurenka

    I SO hope I win this one!

  38. Barbara Lima

    It’s ready to snow here, I’m ready to read this!

  39. Lorraine Bowen

    Would love a chance to read this series.

  40. Janice Santillo

    I love reading a good series.

  41. Laurent Latulippe

    Sounds like a fun read.

  42. John Smith

    Iceland: so dark, so mysterious!

  43. Alicia Sargant

    I’d love to add these books to my reading list

  44. Polly Barlow

    This appears to be an intriguing crime series. I would like to read both books by Jonasson.

  45. ravensfan

    I would love to win this book.

  46. ravensfan

    I would love to win this book.

  47. Jeana Keller

    Thanks for the chance to win.

  48. Desmond Warzel

    Count me in, please!

  49. Richard Derus

    Crossing all my crossable parts to get these great sounding books.

  50. Pam Walrath

    Sounds amazing!

  51. Marybeth Mank

    DAMN!!! I literally sped through the excerpt!!! I can only imagine how engrossed I will be with the whole book. 🙂

  52. Christine Smiga

    These both sound like excellent books! Thank you for the chance to win them.

  53. Susan Morris

    Can hardly wait to read the rest of this book!

  54. Saundra K. Warren

    I’m always looking for new authors!!

  55. Jennifer Hodges

    Attention grabber for sure!

  56. Patrick Murphy

    On my list

  57. Suzanne Parent

    I’ve read Ragnar Jonasson’s first book in the Dark Icelandic series, and loved it. So naturally, I would love to read the second and any others in this series. I love the fact that he has picked ReykjavĂ­k as his setting since one of our law professors is part of the Arctic Council working to determine the fishing rights near Iceland & he stays in ReykjavĂ­k! I like to read about places I’ve never been to. S. Parent, Portland Maine

  58. Mary Lauff-Thompson

    Sounds chilling!

  59. Kyle Johnicker

    I’ll keep my eye on this one.

  60. Carl

    Sounds excellent! Thanks for the chance to win both books.

  61. vicki wurgler

    thanks – this sounds like a great series

  62. Mary Ann Woods

    I’m really enjoying reading various Scandanavian authors These books sound very good.

  63. Ann Schroder

    Loved the first book – can’t wait to read this one!

  64. Ann Schroder

    Loved the first book – can’t wait to read this one!

  65. Janice Milliken

    Brr!
    Need-to-read-both-books!

  66. shannon calvin

    I’m starting to read other countries authors. Looking forward to this one.

  67. Marisa Young

    Good review – would like to read this series.

  68. Jeanette Jackson

    I’d like to read this one!

  69. Rena

    These stories seem so intriguing — would love to win them!

  70. Karen Terry

    I would love to win.

  71. Margit Curtright

    Sounds intriguing

  72. Daniel Morrell

    sounds interesting

  73. SUSAN GANNON

    thanks for chance

  74. john frost

    Would love to start a new Scani-series

  75. Jane Schwarz

    This seems like an interesting series. Thanks for the opportunity to win.

  76. teresa sopher

    This is great. Was just reading about these books the other day.

  77. Esther Whatley

    Thanks for offering both books in this series. They’ve had great reviews and I would love to win.

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