Anne Bonny #BookReview Someone To watch Over Me by @YrsaSig Yrsa Sigurdardottir 5* #CrimeFiction #IcelandicNoir ‘A cracking crime fiction thriller and I applaud the author for her accurate and inclusive cast of characters. 5*’

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Someone To watch Over Me by Yrsa Sigurdardottir – Thora Gudmundsdottir  #5
Translated by Philip Roughton

My own copy from tbr pile
Synopsis:

A creepy, compelling thriller, SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME is the fifth Thora Gudmundsdottir novel from Yrsa, ‘Iceland’s answer to Stieg Larsson’ (Daily Telegraph).

A young man with Down’s Syndrome has been convicted of burning down his care home and killing five people, but a fellow inmate at his secure psychiatric unit has hired Thora to prove that Jakob is innocent.

If he didn’t do it, who did? And how is the multiple murder connected to the death of Magga, killed in a hit and run on her way to babysit?

My Review:

This is #5 in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series. I initially picked it to read, because of its unique synopsis. A young male (Jakob) accused of a violent and fatal crime, but also a character central to the story with downs syndrome. I was intrigued to see how the author would tackle the themes of learning difficulties, in a crime fiction novel. I was not disappointed, at all. What I got was a snapshot into life in a secure psychiatric unit and Thora’s relentless quest for justice.

The novel opens with an eerie scene of a young boy (4yrs) seemingly being haunted by a spirit. It immediately gave me goose bumps and I wondered how much of the novel would contain a supernatural element.

In January 2010, Thora is requested to visit Josteinn Karlsson. He is an inmate at a secure psychiatric unit Sogn; with seven other patients. Josteinn is a prolific child abuser, certified guilty but insane. He has been diagnosed with acute schizophrenia and personality disorders. He has resided at Sogn for 8yrs now and Thora wonders why he would suddenly request her assistance. She informs Josteinn she cannot help with his case, that it is entirely beyond her remit. However, it isn’t her case he wants her to investigate. . .

‘He’s my friend. A good friend’ – Josteinn

Josteinn wishes for her to investigate the case of fellow patient/inmate Jakob. Who is remanded to Sogn due to an act of arson, that left five people dead. Josteinn claims Jakob is innocent, because he knows what it takes to commit such a heinous act and he believes Jakob to be innocent.

Reluctantly, Thora takes the case. She begins her investigation by talking to Jakob’s mother Grimheidur Porjarnardottir. Jakob’s mother brings Thora up to speed, on how she has raised Jakob and the authoritarian approach social services has had over their lives. I found this to be very true to life. There have been multiple cases in the British press; where adults with care needs enter a residential setting against the parents wishes, only for there to be an incident of harm to them or others. Jakob’s mother also sheds light upon a life of little support, being dictated to and not listened to. He was at the sheltered accommodation, only 16 months before the fire occurred.

Their so called support was just the opposite: you never got what you wanted, and you never wanted what you got’ – Grimheidur Porjarnardottir

Thora begins to investigate the residential setting, going into business and patient’s records. The setting was a new-build, designed for five residents aged between 18yrs-25ys. The home’s residents had a wide-range of needs. Lisa was a comatose patient. Sigridur was blind and deaf. Natan was severely epileptic and heavily medicated at night. Tryggvi was severely autistic and never left his room. All perished in the fire, along with the night watchman.
But what was life really like inside the setting? How can Thora get to the truth when the patients are deceased?

‘A sheltered community should be a safe haven for the unfortunate, like a fortress to protect the most needy and vulnerable members of society. But that was clearly not the case. What had actually happened there?’

When Thora digs into the post mortem of resident Lisa, she will uncover a shocking case of abuse.Was the fire to cover up the abuse of a disabled resident?
Was it really Jakob that set the fire?

Thora also begins to receive cryptic random text messages, that are drip fed into the narrative as clues. We the reader, come to understand what they mean, before Thora. At this point I was literally screaming at the kindle. The tension and stakes were THAT high!
Thora questions the motives of Josteinn throughout. Why would a outwardly soulless man care for the future of Jakob’s plight?

‘I can promise you that I have only bad intentions’ – Josteinn

Every book brings something unique, but what this book brings is an honest portrayal of a wide-range of characters with additional needs. I think the author did a brilliant job of the portrayal of the shady people that can be involved in the care of society’s most vulnerable. The cast of residents is written incredibly well, especially the character Tryggvi. My son is autistic, so I rarely read novels with this condition. But when I do I like to see the needs portrayed as accurately as possible, which the author fully achieved.

A cracking crime fiction thriller and I applaud the author for her accurate and inclusive cast of characters. 5*

YS
Yrsa Sigurdardottir
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My review of, The Undesired
My review of, The Reckoning
My Review of, The Legacy
My review of, Why Did You Lie?

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Undesired by @YrsaSig Yrsa Sigurdardottir #CrimeFiction #IcelandicNoir @HodderBooks @HodderPublicity #TheUndesired ‘Breath-taking ending 5*’

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The Undesired by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
My own copy from tbr pile
Synopsis:

Aldis is working in a juvenile detention centre in rural Iceland. She witnesses something deeply disturbing in the middle of the night; soon afterwards, two of the boys at the centre are dead.

Decades later, single father Odinn is looking into alleged abuse at the centre following the unexplained death of the colleague who was previously running the investigation. The more he finds out, though, the more it seems the odd events of the 1970s are linked to the accident that killed his ex-wife. Was her death something more sinister?

Yrsa Sigurdardottir is a huge European bestseller both with her crime and horror novels. You might want to sleep with the light on after reading THE UNDESIRED . . .

My Review:

I have recently read The Reckoning, which is #2 in The Children’s House series of novels. I have also read and absolutely LOVED, why did you lie? So, I was intrigued to read Sigurdardottir’s back catalogue of novels. This novel appealed to me, due to its themes of juvenile detention and eerie/horror thrills. I like a good scare occasionally. I actually put this down at one point, reading alone at night as it began to freak me out!
So, when it says it has eerie moments, it is not lying!

‘Someone always gets punished when a crime is committed, but not always the guilty party’ – Aldis

The novel opens at the end quite an unusual start. It opens with the death of Odinn, in his car via poisonous fumes, as he thinks of his daughter Run. It is quite Vague, which I liked. I didn’t know if this was a murder, I can only assume due to the cover that it was so. But assuming anything, with one of Sigurdardottir’s novels is your first mistake!

We then meet Odinn, very much alive and prior to his sealed fate. He works for a committee that is investigating potential historical case in residential settings. He has been assigned the case of the Krokur care home for delinquent boys, to investigate its practices in the 1970s. Odinn has been assigned this case after his work colleague died at her desk, of a heart attack. The committee is under great stress and Odinn must continue to investigate despite no allegations have been alleged.

We learn more about Odinn personal, that he is a single father to his daughter Run. That his ex-wife Lara recently fell to her death from her window. This tragic accident left his young daughter (11yrs) traumatised and Odinn has her attending counselling to deal with the grief.

The novel then jumps back in time to 1974. Where we meet Aldis as she begins work at Krokur. There are currently seven boys and a new arrival pending. The boys are aged 13-16yrs old and have committed relatively minor crimes. Things that nowadays wouldn’t be considered subject to such harsh punishment. Although nobody should be subject to the punishment dished out at Krokur. The owners are a couple named Lilja and Veigar, they are recovering from the loss of their stillborn baby. Krokur is based in a remote location, SW of Reykjaner peninsula, meaning staff rarely get to leave. The owners are bizarre and their behaviour serves to become more and more alarming! Hakon, Malli and Steini are the three male members of staff that board with Aldis. Everything about Krokur just screams ‘get me out of here’. I simply don’t know how Aldis withstood it.

It is through the arrival of new ‘inmate’ Einar we learn more of Aldis’s background. As she begins to form quite a strong bond with the new young man. She is eager to know what crime he has committed to land him at Krokur but staff do not have access to the boys files. The boys dormitory is locked at night, there are bars amongst the windows and they are surely given the full ‘prison experience’. But if the boys are locked in every night, who is it that the owners claim to have seen on the grounds at night. Does Krokur have its own prowler? If so, what do they hope to achieve?

As Odinn continues to dig into Roberta’s files, he finds mis-matched information and from what he can understand Krokur seemed to offer humane care. That is until he uncovers the two deaths by ‘accident’ and digs deeper into their personal history. At the same time he begins to personally investigate Lara’s alleged accident. He hopes that if he can understand some of the facts, he can help his daughter come to terms with her loss. Run’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and she claims her mother in angry with her in heaven.

‘Perhaps the day of reckoning had come’ – Odinn

Odinn eventually manages to track down one of the former residents and one of the former owners of Krokur. I couldn’t wait to read their point of view and found myself racing through the pages, at rapid speed. Odinn also uncovers some threatening emails in Roberta’s computer. Somebody didn’t want this home under investigation. But why? Was Roberta’s death an accident or something more sinister?
‘Bloody nosy bitch
leave well alone
or You’ll regret it’

Aldis is caught in a power cut with one of the young boys Tobbi. After she catches him in the cellar. The entire incident gave me goosebumps! I cannot accurately describe it, but it is such an eerie sinister moment in the whole book!
It left me putting the book, down for the night, to prevent nightmares.

Odinn interviews Pytti at the Hladgerdarkot treatment centre. He is introduced to the man, via Kegga one of the staff at the centre. She gives Odinn some of Pytti’s history. It becomes clear this is a man that has consistently struggled with his past. Leading him down a never ending path of addiction and suffering. Pytti informs Odinn that he spent 11 months at Krokur for breaking a window at school. He tells of the appalling conditions, of no education, enforced labour and bible study. He also remarks about the physical and verbal abuse withstood.
But maintains that Lilja was the worst of the bunch. . .

“It doesn’t alter the fact that if you want to look after children properly you have to love them. And people seem incapable of that” – Kegga

In 1974, Aldis begins to snoop further and further into the owner’s office. Determined to uncover something she knows has been kept from her, along the way, discovering more truths.

‘Her mother had once told her that those who eavesdrop never hear well of themselves’ – Aldis

Odinn prepares to meet an elderly Lilja at the geriatric ward. Unknowing this will be the interview that not only unravels the case but unravels his entire life.

No one and nothing is as it seems

This novel has a fantastic ending that leaves you in utter disbelief! I couldn’t believe how many clues I had failed to pick up upon. The author clearly had me, the reader in the palm of her hand. I was so distracted by the various characters stories and spooky episodes. That I completely missed how it all interconnected.
Breath-taking ending 5*

YS
Yrsa Sigurdardottir
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My review – The Reckoning
My review – The Legacy
My review – Why Did You Lie?

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Reckoning by @YrsaSig 5* Genius #CrimeFiction #IcelandicNoir #NewRelease @HodderPublicity @HodderBooks ‘This novel is the perfect revenge story, with revelations right up to the very last page!’

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The Reckoning by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
#2 In The Children’s House Series

Own copy via Kindle
Synopsis:

A chilling note predicting the deaths of six people is found in a school’s time capsule, ten years after it was buried.
But surely, if a thirteen-year-old wrote it, it can’t be a real threat…

Detective Huldar suspects he’s been given the investigation simply to keep him away from real police work. He turns to psychologist Freyja to help understand the child who hid the message.
Soon, however, they find themselves at the heart of another shocking case.

For the discovery of the letter coincides with a string of macabre events: body parts found in a garden, followed by the murder of the man who owned the house. His initials are BT, one of the names on the note.

Huldar and Freyja must race to identify the writer, the victims and the murderer, before the rest of the targets are killed…

My Review:

This novel is the perfect revenge story, with revelations right up to the very last page! It is brilliantly written and slowly unravels to reveal a meticulously planned plot.
It is one NOT to be missed!

The novel opens in September 2004, with 8yr old Vaka waiting at the school gates for her father who is late to collect her. She is approached by a curious school mate who offers to wait with her. Eventually the girls agree to walk to her new friend’s house nearby and call Vaka’s father. The friend warns them they must be quick and quiet.
This will be the last time, Vaka is seen alive. . . .

The novel then jumps ahead to 2016 with Detective Huldar, dealing with the cases no one wants. He has recently been demoted, from head of major murder investigations after a screw-up. He is left feeling demoralised and redundant in his new post.

Freyja has also been demoted from director of children’s house to child psychologist. She is angry with her downfall and lays the blame firmly with Huldar.

The case of the school time capsule is rather complex. When a capsule is unearthed ten years later in 2016, it has an extra letter inside, one that carries with it threats of death. . . .
‘In 2016 the following people are going to die: K, S, BT, JJ, OV and I. Nobody will miss them. Least of all me. I can’t wait’

As creepy as the time capsule note is, is this a prank? A threat gone astray? Or is someone planning on killing the individuals listed? How do you identify the people with only initials to go from? This may seem mundane and tedious to Huldar and young copper Gudlaugur ‘Gulli’ but it will turn out to be their most twisted case yet!

Erla is now in-charge of the major murder investigations team. She feels out of her depth and inadequate. Despite Huldar’s attempts to build her up. She is present at a crime scene where two human hands are discovered in a hot tub. The owner Benedict, has an initial from the letter BT, are the cases related or pure coincidence?

“Who’d be capable of chopping of another persons hands?” – Huldar
“A madman. Someone seriously deranged” – Freyja

Freyja reluctantly agrees to help Huldar with the time capsule case. She represses her inner anger at him, due to her own on-going problems in her personal life.
“Lots of teenagers fantasise about killing their enemies one day. But virtually none go on to act it out” – Freyja

Across town prosecutor Thorvaldur begins receiving emails from reckoning@gmail.com they contain death threats and attachments regarding betrayal and an image of two scruffy children. He is baffled as to who is sending the threats but doesn’t call the police. Despite the sinister tone of the threats. . .

‘What beautiful children you’ve got. Make sure you take good care of them. There are people out there who might betray them, as you know too well’

Meanwhile Huldar assumes he has a lead on the time capsule case, when one of the other notes has matching handwriting. The case links to Throstur, now in his 20s. But does he hold the key to solving this bizarre case?
Huldar and Freyja dig into his past. His child psychologist records and family history. He appears to be a depressed young man obsessed with death and evil. A friendless kid, who scared his peers.
His family situation is dire, as they read on he becomes a likely suspect. . .

“There must have been something wrong with the boy. Or his immediate environment” – Freyja

The novel does talk about crime in Iceland in general. How most cases are solved within 24/48hrs and crime is relatively low.
This really adds to the realistic nature of how the story pans out.

Freyja quizzes her work colleague Solveig, on Throstur’s vague records and her approaches with him in the past, as his child psychologist. The more Freyja digs, the less she trusts Solveig!

“Even one child with problems is one too many” – Solveig

Freyja continues to dig into the past. Throstur Jonsson has been known to the child mental health system since 8yr old, yet his records are bare. He has an ID but no files. Who would want to delete his history? Was it Solveig?
‘Something didn’t feel right’ – Freyja

Prosecutor Thorvaldur battles with his ex-wife over the whereabout of their two young children. He is an arrogant, rude entitled man. Yet his concern for his children Karlotta and Dadi is real. Who would want to harm them? And why has he not reported the threats? Does the esteemed prosecutor have something to hide? If so what?

Freyja and Huldar eventually interview Throstur. He lives with his sister Sigru and mother Agnes in poverty. At the mere mention of social services involvement, he becomes enraged and the interview is cut short. Huldar mentally makes a note to summon him to the police station at a later date, when they have more evidence and his records. But it is clear to see, this is a young man in deep pain. Something happened to that boy and no one helped this family.
Condemned by their father’s reputation, the family have been forced to move every year for the last 5yrs. Their inner pain and coming to the terms with Jon’s crimes is fully explored.
This is a family right on the edges of society, who nobody wants to know or help!

“I was dumb enough to think the cops would be worried about us now that he’s out. I should’ve known better” – Thorstur

It becomes apparent Thorstur’s father Jon Jonsson has been recently released from jail. He is a convicted paedophile and served over ten years for the sexual abuse and murder of an 8yr old girl. He claims to have no memory of the crime due to his alcoholism, at that time. But DNA evidence doesn’t lie. Since his incarceration he has ‘found’ god. But does anyone that evil, ever change? Did Jon abuse his own children?

‘Children were not born bad; not Thorstur nor anyone else’

When Benedict Toft’s body is discovered the case really picks up its pace. The past and the present will be fully uncovered and no one’s secrets are safe anymore!
A public murder scene brings with it media attention and the police officers are placed under the media spotlight. Can they untangle the past and solve the case in time? Or are those listed on the time capsule note doomed to death?

Huldar believes the cases are interlinked, yet this remains tough to prove with no evidence. With his past history and demotion, he is aware he is skating on thin ice. The answers lie in the past, but can Huldar and Feryja get Thorstur to open up?

This novel is a fantastic read! I devoured it instantly! The themes of childhood abuse, cover-ups and revenge finally come together to make one phenomenal ending!!!
5* Genius

YS
Yrsa Sigurdardottir
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My Review of, The Legacy #1 in The Children’s House series
My Review of, Why Did You Lie?
Coming Soon – My Review of, The Undesired 22nd May 

#Review #WhyDidYouLie @YrsaSig 5* #Genius @HodderBooks #IcelandicNoir

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Why Did You Lie? by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb

Synopsis:

A journalist on the track of an old case attempts suicide.

An ordinary couple return from a house swap in the states to find their home in disarray and their guests seemingly missing.

Four strangers struggle to find shelter on a windswept spike of rock in the middle of a raging sea.

They have one thing in common: they all lied.

And someone is determined to punish them…

My review:

The cover of this novel comes with the stamp ‘winner of the Petrona award 2015’. I have also heard huge praise for the author and thoroughly enjoyed one of her previous novels The Legacy. So I knew I was in for a cracking good read, how much of a cracking good read, I could not have predicted!

The novel is almost split into 3 separate parts. The group stranded at the lighthouse. The family returned from a house swap style vacation. Tough but troubled cop Nina. Whilst I loved all these individual stories and the plots that ran within them, my ultimate favourite was Nina.

The prologue opens in the midst of an event at sea. It is a crazy prologue and you never truly know what has taken place. But that is the idea and the pure genius behind Yrsa’s writing in this novel. The novel continues to move around the various parts of the story in the build up to ‘the event’ but as stated we don’t know what the event is all about. Cue epic amounts of tension!

Helgi, Ivar, Toti and Heida make up the group of four stranded at sea, whilst attempting to document a lighthouse at the giant rock in the sea. Their story develops from one of a shared experience to one of accusations and paranoia. I found this gripping, yet I also felt mystified as to how they fit into the plot, what is their narrative’s relevance to the other characters?

The novel moves onto Nina, who is a struggling cop. By struggling I don’t mean with her job or her workload but with the sexism and female oppression that is allowed to thrive in the police force. After raising a complaint, she taken off duty and pretty much sent to the basement to rot away an existence, alone with cold case files. Just when I felt complete and utter sympathy for her character. I was yet to learn her personal history. Nina spends her days at work and her evenings by her comatose husband’s bedside. Her husband Throstur having attempted suicide just 8 weeks earlier, failed in his attempt and now lays in a coma. Doctors have advised to turn off the life support but with Nina struggling to gain his sisters respect, let alone support, it is a tricky decision to make. That is until Nina stumbles upon a cold case file that has her husbands listed as a child witness…………..

Husband Noi, wife Vala and teenage son Tumi, make up the other part of the novel. They are a family returning from a fantastic vacation in Florida. However, their American counterparts are nowhere to be seen. Their house is in disarray, their cat half-starved and their keys nowhere to be seen. What has happened to the people staying in their home? When Noi’s attempts to investigate himself fail, he calls on the police who offer little assistance themselves.

“you can’t go around destroying other people’s lives without suffering the consequences”

This novel is layered with mystery upon mystery as it develops. The novel is titled, Why Did You Lie, for the first half of the novel I couldn’t see who was lying about what and wondered if they were all lying. But that is the essential beauty of this novel. It isn’t about the individual parts of the story; it is in how they come together. This novel not only reads to the very last page; it actually reads right up to the last sentence!
5* Genius

YS
Authors links:
via Hodder: https://www.hodder.co.uk/authors/yrsa+sigurdardottir.page
Twitter: @YrsaSig

 

New release: The legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir 5*

the-legacy

My review:

In this day and age, what self respecting reader doesn’t love a bit of Scandi, Swedish & Icelandic Noir? I for one am a huge fan! That being said this was my first read by this author. A friend had recommend the author to me and when I saw this available on netgalley. I requested as quick as a flash.

The Novel opens with an intense prologue, it soon centres around a very dark & Violent crime the torture murder of a young mother. The themes within the novel of adoption & childhood psychological damage, work very well together. It had me constantly trying to figure out where all the characters fit into the story. It did have the feel of a police procedural but with the added intrigue of the children’s house, a supportive environment for children at risk of mental health problems. The characters of Freyja the psychologist, Huldar the cop and Margret the child witness are incredibly well written. Not forgetting creepy Karl who gave me the heebee geebies from the first time he is mentioned. The codes to decipher within the novel was very cleverly done!

Many times this novel had chapters that left you on mini cliff-hangers throughout the story. So it kept you gripped and engaged as it moved around the different characters. The ending was brilliant & the conclusion I didn’t guess. I love how the author even saved a last little bit of eerie for the epilogue. Can’t wait to read the next in the series and loved this 5* read!

The legacy is available for pre-order and is released on 23rd March, treat yourself!

*I received a netgalley Ebook copy in return for an honest review.