Last year I wrote about The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir – it was my first venture into Icelandic Noir and I loved it. So I was delighted when Jenni from Hodder Paperbacks asked me to be part of the blog tour for its release in paperback.
It’s the first in the Children’s House thriller series, translated from Icelandic by Victoria Cribb.
Detective Huldar is out of his depth. His first murder case is like nothing he’s seen before – a bizarre attack on a seemingly blameless woman.
The only evidence is a list of numbers found at the scene, and the testimony of the victim’s eleven-year-old daughter, who isn’t talking.
While his team attempt to crack the code, Huldar turns to child psychologist Freyja for her expertise with traumatised young people.
Because time is running out…and the one thing they know for certain is that the murderer will strike again.
My review – first posted 27 March 2017:
I think the first thing I should say about this book is that I loved it and once I started reading I just didn’t want to put it down. What is so remarkable about that is that there are some particularly dark and nasty murder scenes, which would normally guarantee that I’d stop reading. I am so glad I did read on. The Legacy is an excellent book. It’s dark, mysterious and very cleverly plotted, full of tension and nerve-wracking suspense. Although I thought I’d worked out who the murderer is I was completely wrong, but looking back I could see all the clues are there, cunningly concealed – I just didn’t notice them.
It begins with a prologue set in 1987 when three young children, two boys and their little sister are waiting to be adopted. It’s hard to find anyone willing to adopt all three and they are separated. The psychiatrists’ opinion is that it is in their best interests to be parted and that their horrendous background be kept secret, hoping that time and being split up would obliterate their memories. I did try to keep the events in the prologue in mind as I read and had some idea of how it related to the rest of the book, but it was only when I came to the dramatic conclusion that everything became clear.
Move forward to 2015 to Elisa whose husband is away leaving her on her own with three young children for a week. Her seven-year old daughter, Margrét wakes her, frightened because there is a man in the house. What follows is the first horrifying murder (read it quickly and try not to linger over the details because the pictures they paint don’t bear thinking about). Margrét, who was hiding when her mother is killed, is the only witness and she’s too traumatised to say very much.
She is taken to the Children’s House where Freyja, the child psychologist in charge and the detective Huldar, in charge of the police investigation, try to get to the truth. It’s immensely difficult, complicated by more murders. Freyja and Huldar are both sympathetic characters, both deeply committed to their jobs, but because of past history between them unable to trust each other.
The narrative is in the third person and switches between Freyja’s and Huldar’s viewpoints, interspersed by that of another character, Karl a student and radio ham enthusiast who has been receiving strange messages from a mysterious numbers station broadcasting, unusually, in Icelandic. These consist of long strings of numbers read out by synthesised voices. Karl dreams of successfully cracking the codes. I was both intrigued and completely mystified by this part of the novel. I was completely engrossed in the plot and the characters and I shall certainly be reading more of Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s books in the future.
My thanks to the publishers, Hodder and Stoughton, and NetGalley for my review copy.
- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (25 Jan. 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1473621550
- ISBN-13: 978-1473621558
- My rating: 5* (despite the horrific murders)
And do check out the other blogs taking part in this tour