The Island by Ragnar Jónasson Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Four friends visit the island. 

But only three return . . . 

Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is sent to the isolated island of Elliðaey to investigate and soon finds haunting similarities with a previous case – a young woman found murdered ten years ago in the equally desolate Westfjords. 

Is there a patient killer stalking these barren outposts? 

As Hulda navigates a sinister game constructed of smoke and mirrors she is convinced that no one is telling the truth, including those closest to her. 

But who will crack first? And what secrets is the island hiding? 

Haunting, suspenseful and as chilling as an Icelandic winter, The Island follows one woman’s journey to find the truth hidden in the darkest shadows, and shine a light on her own dark past.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Island is the first book I have read in this series. I had wanted to read book one first but never had the time. 

It is a three book series and unusually they go back in time rather than forward. In book one Hulda is close to retirement, and her involvement in this book is 15 years earlier, just before she turns 50.  This book is set firstly in 1987, Hulda becomes involved in 1997 and there are suspicious deaths in each.

The book starts with a slightly creepy opening chapter. It was one where I couldn’t really work out why it unsettled me or who it concerned. I spent much of the novel trying to work out who the child was, and her connection to the main storyline. It was revealed towards the end and was more upsetting than I thought it would be. 

The group of friends are all connected to both deaths and I didn’t have a clue who was responsible. Hulda is convinced that what happened in 1987 wasn’t as straightforward as it seems. It is evident that she wasn’t a person to accept everything she is told, and had  always had her suspicions about one of the people concerned. And she wasn’t prepared to stay quiet.

It isn’t just the investigation that makes this novel so good to read. There is Hulda, the tragic events that destroyed her family and her attempts to trace her father. There is the Icelandic countryside that sounds fascinating and is somewhere I would love to visit. And there are the events from history that are mentioned briefly, execution for witchcraft. 



Whiteout by Ragnar Jónasson – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier…

My Review

Whiteout is book four in the series that features Ari Thór. When the books were translated into English, book one was published first followed by book five. So this book neatly finishes the series and fills in all the gaps regarding Ari Thór, Kristen and Tómas’s personal lives. I can also reread the five books in order at my leisure.

It takes place at Christmas time after an eerie prologue that sent the hairs up on the back of my neck. Ari Thór is asked to accompany Tómas on a trip to a remote area to investigate a suspicious death. Because Kristen is heavily pregnant he convinces her to go with them. She agrees because she want to do some investigating herself, concerning her family’s history.

The personal stories in the series have always been strong and I  enjoyed seeing Tómas again. It was also the first time that I warmed to Kristen. The differences between her and Ari Thór are still evident but for once I had sympathy for her. His refusal ( or reluctance) to discuss his past was upsetting for her, whilst she was determined to find out about her own family history.

It was fascinating reading about Iceland and its customs. The celebration of Christmas was magical, despite some of the slightly strange delicacies that were eaten. Some of the traditions were humbling when you live in a society that is often dubious.

The book put me in mind of an Agatha Christie novel. There were only a few characters. All had different personalities and had known each other for years. They all had their secrets, desires, fears and disappointments. One of these characters I liked a lot and I was cringing at times, hoping it wasn’t them who was a murderer. The area in which it takes place sounded beautiful but intimidating. I couldn’t imagine it feeling welcoming even if there wasn’t the bad weather.

I truly hope that there are more books to come in this series, it is one that I will miss if it has finished. There is still plenty of room on my shelf for limited edition signed copies.

 

 

Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson

 

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About the Book

1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all…

In nearby Siglufjörður, young policeman Ari Thór tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where no one wants to know, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town of Siglufjörður in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.

Haunting, frightening and complex, Rupture is a dark and atmospheric thriller from one of Iceland’s foremost crime writers.

My Review

Rupture is the latest book in The Dark Icelandic series and takes place immediately after Blackout. This series is now firmly established as one of my favourites. Ari Thór is more settled now in Siglufjörður despite the enforced quarantine in the town due to the death of a tourist. Because it is a quiet time with everybody staying in their homes he starts to look at a case from the 50s as a favour. Not a cold case as such, more of trying to identify a young man who was in a family photograph. One of the other people in the photo committed suicide shortly after the photo was taken.Ísrún also reappears, looking into a hit and run and the disappearance of a young boy. It was good to see her back, she is like a dog with a bone and stands up to Ivor when he attempts to bully her.
What I love about this series is there is no sense of urgency. Ari is not involved in the current cases, he is just concerned with the cold case. This thread of the story is the one that appealed to me the most. I love looking at old photos and if there was one person I didn’t recognize in a group photo I would get obsessed with who they were. Ari is rebuilding his relationship with Kristin and for the first time I started to like her. She came across as a warmer person than in the earlier novels.
Hedinsfjörður sounds beautifully isolated, the type of place that would be lovely to visit but would quickly feel intimidating by its remoteness. It felt spooky and this combined with certain scenes with Robert convinced me that Ragnar would make a great ghost story writer.
As I said earlier this is a series that I enjoy very much and I’m eagerly waiting for the signed copy of this book to arrive to add to my collection of signed first editions.
With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the early copy received for review.

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Blackout by Ragnar Jónasson

 

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Today I am delighted to participate in the blog tour for Ragnar Jónasson’s latest novel Blackout.

About the Book

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 Reykjavik 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.

My Review

Blackout is the third novel to be published by Orenda. The second book to be published, Nightblind was set a few years after the events in Snowblind the first one. I was eager to find out what had happened in the years between and this novel answers a few of those questions, being set soon after the first book.
Ari Thór is now a bit more settled and enjoying life more in the little town of Siglufjordur although he deeply regrets the break up with Kristín. Tómas is missing his wife who has moved away and Hlyner is haunted by events that happened when he was younger. It is the personal issues that affect all three that have been resolved with the publication of this book.
Throughout the novel the volcanic eruption that caused havoc over much of Europe is present. When a man who is working in the area is murdered Ari Thór and Tomas are helping in the investigation. At the same time a TV journalist is also conducting her own investigation into the death. There are mixed reports into the character of the dead man, some say he was a saint but there are also those who say he was somebody who couldn’t be trusted. Both the police and the journalist are keen to get answers.
Like the previous books, the murder is the main storyline but what goes on in the background is also very important. The story concerning Hlyner was quite upsetting and I did have some sympathy for him. The truth concerning Elias was also dark and sadly very believable. I would have liked to know more concerning this storyline, hopefully there will be more revealed in the next novel.
The characters who feature in the series are all strong and I love getting to know them. It’s not all about Ari Thor, but more about a close knit community. Some are nice people, some not but all feel real.
Thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received. I am thrilled that I have each of Ragnar’s books as signed limited edition hardbacks and I’m looking forward to adding to them.

Snow Blind by Ragnar Jónasson

imageAri Thór Arason is a new police recruit who has just got his first position within the police in a village called Siglufjördur in Northern Iceland. He moves there, leaving behind his girlfriend Kristín. He feels lonely, both parents are dead and he misses his girlfriend. He isn’t sure if their relationship will survive him being away from Reykjavik.
He accepts the nickname of the Reverend in good faith when he realises it is public knowledge that he studied theology before going into the police force. But despite the affectionate term he feels very much an outsider especially when the two cases that they have to investigate have taken place in a village where everybody knows each other and everybody insists that there are no secrets. But Ari refuses to accept what he is told and continues to dig into the past.
It’s very claustrophobic. I can’t really imagine how I would feel to be trapped in a town by bad weather. Where the only way in and out is through a tunnel and an avalanche has made inaccessible. A feeling that must be so much worse when you don’t know anybody and don’t know who to trust.
I loved the way Ari would think of something or ask a question and you didn’t find out straight away what he discovered. Just a little enticement to read a little bit more. And I loved to read about the Icelandic tradition regarding books at Christmas. It sounds wonderful. It is beautifully written (and translated by Quentin Bates) and I’m looking forward to reading the second book Night Blind very soon.

My copy is a limited edition signed hardback (no 134). It will be treasured.