By Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
Translated by Victoria Cribb
New York: Minotaur Books 2018
It is always a treat to follow a good writer who is getting better.
I have read most of Yrsa’s previous books; the Þóra Guðmundsdóttir series as well as the stand-alone The Undesired. This is the start of the new Freyja and Huldar (Children's House) series. First published in Iceland as DNA, Freya is a child psychologist and Huldar is a newly promoted detective, they are unwillingly thrown into a murder investigation (they have had a brief fling together previously) that soon spirals into something much larger.
This is a proper “thriller”, there as several scenes of almost unbearable horror and suspense. The plot is complex, but Yrsa gives the reader plenty to chew on as it twists and turns on its way to a satisfactory conclusion. There are three more novels in the series, not yet translated, English readers will just have to wait. If they are as good as this one, Yrsa is on a path to usurp Arnaldur Indriðason as the leading Icelandic mystery author. She made a good decision to go with dual protagonists; their awkward interaction keeps things interesting.
Although the plot revolves around quirks in Icelandic law and society, it isn’t a very atmospheric book. Those looking for their “Iceland fix” of places and scenery will be disappointed. It could have easily been set in any Scandinavian country, or even Scotland for that matter. Victoria Cribb’s translation is seamless.