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Friday 3 May 2019

‘The Absolution’ by Yrsa Sigurdardotti

Translated by Victoria Cribb
Published by Hodder & Stoughton,
8 April 2019. 
ISBN: 978-1-473-62161-9 (PB)

Originally written in the Icelandic language, this thriller is ably translated into English by Victoria Cribb.   The book is part of a series although it can easily be enjoyed as a stand-alone.

 In any language it would be a somewhat chilling story.  A teenage schoolgirl is found dead with a sheet of paper bearing the number 2 beneath her body.  But that’s not all.   The killer is media savvy and displays his/her expertise by the use of sinister Snapchat video clips that pull no punches when showing the gruesome crime scene and the victim begging for forgiveness.

Freya and Huldar, an ill-matched but effective investigative duo, tip toeing round each other, set their differences aside and dig deep to find that the victim, like the next one, is far from sainted.  Both are revealed as nasty school bullies who have caused their targets untold emotional harm.

The author has a good grasp of the Icelandic school system and child psychologists that makes for thought provoking reading; the relationship between the characters is skillfully drawn and each individual emerges with different, if not entirely, likeable character traits. 

 What the author compellingly portrays is the dark side of social media and its ability to wreck lives particularly those that are lonely and vulnerable. 

 A master storyteller, the author uses all this to weave a strong, macabre and insightful piece of crime fiction, having bullying at its core, with an unexpected and unforgettable climax. 
Reviewer: Serena Fairfax

Yrsa Sigurðardóttir is an Icelandic writer, of both crime-novels and children's fiction. She has been writing since 1998. Her début crime-novel has recently been translated into English by Bernard Scudder, published in the US in 2007, and the UK in January 2008. She also has a career as a civil engineer.

 Serena Fairfax spent her childhood in India, qualified as a lawyer in England and practised in London for many years. She began writing by contributing feature articles to legal periodicals   then turned her hand to fiction. Having published nine novels all, bar one, hardwired with a romantic theme, she has also written short stories and accounts of her explorations off the beaten track that feature on her blog. A tenth, distinctly unromantic, novel is a work in progress. Thrillers, crime and mystery narratives, collecting old masks and singing are a few of her favourite things.

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