Nightblind was published by Orenda Books on 1 December 2015
Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village on the northernmost tip of Iceland, accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór 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 Thór 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.
Welcome to Day 17 of the epic #NIGHTBLIND Blog Tour.
Today I am pleased to present a quick Q&A with super talented Icelandic author, Ragnar Jonasson.
Ragnar has taken the world of crime by storm with his outstanding Ari Thor series. Last year, we all fell in love with Snowblind and took it to our hearts.
Nightblind is the second book to be published in the UK, set five years into the future and is available NOW.
1. Tell us about the highly anticipated Nightblind. I’ve recently read Snowblind and have fallen in love with Ari Thor.
Nightblind is set a few years after Snowblind, but Siglufjordur is very firmly at the centre of the story. Ari Thor has missed out on a promotion, when his boss, Tómas, moves to Reykjavik. His new boss, Herjólfur, is shot at point-blank range in a deserted old house on the outskirts of the small town in the middle of the night, and the whole country is shocked, as shootings are almost unheard of in Iceland. Ari Thor has to investigate the shooting, but Tómas is called back to Siglufjordur to work on the case. Parallel to this investigation the reader learns of the story of a person held in a psychiatric ward against their will… The other books in the series also have Siglufjordur as a central point, but the action in those books also takes place in other parts of northern Iceland (including some very isolated and picturesque places), whilst Nightblind takes place almost exclusively in Siglufjordur. That’s the reason why we decided to publish this book after Snowblind, even though it isn’t next in the series. The good news is that the books can be read out of order with no problem, and easily stand alone. Blackout, which will be published in the late spring, picks up from Snowblind.
2. Snowblind has taken the UK by storm. Everyone is talking about it. Has it surprised you?
I have been very pleasantly surprised, and indeed honoured, by the reception Snowblind has had in the UK. I could not have imagined this, so I am very thankful to all those who have helped bring the book to English readers.
3. What inspired you to write crime fiction?
I have always enjoyed reading crime fiction; my shelves are filled with crime fiction, Golden Age as well as current, and I think it’s as simple as wanting to write something that I might enjoy reading myself. I started reading Agatha Christie when I was quite young, and she has certainly been a great inspiration, but so have many other authors, such as Ellery Queen, S.S. Van Dine, P.D. James, and many of my Nordic colleagues, Jo Nesbo, Arnaldur Indridason, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, to name a few.
4. I love how you have used Iceland as a location. What is it about Iceland and northern Iceland that makes it the perfect setting for murder and intrigue?
Northern Iceland is simply a wonderful part of the world, unlike any other. The contrasts are amazing, the beautiful and warm summers and the dark and cold winters, and the landscape is magnificent. There are very few things more beautiful than a sunset in the middle of a summer’s night over the vast expanse of the ocean out of Siglufjordur. As I mentioned, Snowblind and Nightblind take place pretty much exclusively in the town of Siglufjordur. Blackout also takes place in the great fjord of Skagafjordur – at the beginning of the book, a body is found near a place called Grettislaug (Grettir’s Pool) – if you Google ‘Grettislaug’ you should see it. The next in the series, Broken, takes place in the deserted and very isolated fjord Hedinsfjordur, next to Siglufjordur, one of the most inaccessible places in Iceland in the mid-20th century. The book tells the story of a decades-old mystery there. Hedinsfjordur.is will give you an idea of the beauty of that place. The final book, which we are currently calling Breathless, takes place in a place called Kálfshamarsvík (I also recommend a Google search) – a place of great natural beauty, with impressive basalt columns and an old lighthouse, it’s an area where there used to be a village not so long ago, but where there are now only ruins. That particular book is also my “Christmas mystery”, as it is set in the days leading up to Christmas, in festive snow.
5. I love Ari Thor. I know you have written quite a few in the series now. Can you give us any hints about what will happen to him in the future?
I have written five books in the series (plus a prequel set before Snowblind, dealing with his father’s disappearance). Snowblind and Nightblind are set five years apart, and the other three in the series (Blackout, Broken and (working title) Breathless) take place in between. So I do know a lot about what happens in between Snowblind and Nightblind, in the three books which are coming out in the UK in 2016 to 2017/2018, (and also what happened to his father, from the prequel), but as to what happens to him after Nightblind …
Thank you so much, Ragnar. I cannot wait to get my hands on more of the series.
This is my five star review of Night Blind.
I fell in love with Ari Thor and Icelandic noir in Snow Blind. Now Ari Thor is back and we have another superb mystery drama, from Ragnar Jonasson. This is Night Blind, set a good five years after book one. We get more cold dark winter days and a classic whodunnit. Hooray!
Ari Thor is still in the police force and has missed out on a promotion. His old boss has left. He is stuck with Herjolfur, a man he cannot be bothered to befriend. He is now a father to Stefnir and his relationship with Kristin is on, if not that settled. Ari Thor is sick with the flu, when Herjolfur is called to investigate something at a remote location. Herjolfur is shot and left to bleed out in the snow. His old boss Tomas returns to help Ari Thor investigate. It is a rare occurrence in Iceland, for the police to be attacked in this way. The community is in shock. The police come under political pressure to solve the case. Will Tomas and Ari Thor find the truth?
We simultaneously follow the investigation into the attack on Herjolfur and see the detention of a young mental health patient in a psychiatric ward. We hear his words and try to follow his thought processes. How is he connected to the crime? Who is he?
I love nothing more than crime in small communities, with lovely slow reveals and a smattering of clues. Everyone is a suspect in this harsh winter environment and everyone has secrets to hide. It is cold, claustrophobic and the reader feels it all. Ragnar Jonasson makes me believe in this place and want to be a part of it. Although this is set a good five years after the first book, it all feels familiar. Ari Thor is familiar and such a lovely bloke.
I cannot help but be completely and utterly charmed by this series. It will have mass appeal and will speak to people on issues such as gun control. I really don’t know how Ragnar Jonasson and his translator, Quentin Bates have done it. It is beautifully crafted and just terribly addictive. I will be begging them both for more. The only thing that irks me is the missing years in between the two books. I am not a fan of reading things in the wrong order.
An unmissable drama. This is a series that everyone is raving about and quite rightly so. I want more Ragnar Jonasson.