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‘The Legacy’ by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

I received this book, the first in Icelandic author Sigurðardóttir’s ‘Children’s House’ series, as a very kind gift. The English translation is by Victoria Cribb. It’s a thriller-ish crime fiction, a Nordic murder mystery. It was a particularly thoughtful present as it’s been a while since I last read a book like this.

Predictably, early in the book, there’s a gruesome murder: truly gruesome, Stephen King-ishly horrific—but written more with a twinkling eye than with a desire to frighten the reader. The only witness is the victim’s young child, Margaret, who is traumatised and didn’t see much in any case. Freyja, who is the psychologist in charge of the ‘Children’s House’—a state refuge for traumatised children—becomes a central character in the novel as she supports the police investigation by coaxing information from the seven-year-old. Newly promoted Detective Huldar leads the investigation, feeling out of his depth and as though he must prove himself.

It’s hard to say much more about this sort of book without spoiling it. Suffice it to say that there are more horrific murders and lots of twists and turns. There are a few introverted teenagers who are into shortwave radio, some coded messages, and some questionable sexual relationships. It’s also redolent of Iceland: some aspects of the plot can only work in that singular country.

The plot was well-constructed with genuinely confounding twists. I didn’t guess ‘whodunnit’. There was interesting character development and a dash of insightful social commentary. The writing was atmospheric and engaging.

The Legacy may be the first of Sigurðardóttir’s novels I’ve read, but it won’t be the last.

This post was filed under: What I've Been Reading, .

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