On a jagged, bleak lava field just outside Reykjavík stands Gálgaklettur or the Gallows Rock. Once a place of execution, it is now a tourist attraction. Until one morning, when a man is found hanging from it. At first it looks like suicide, but a nail embedded in his chest proves it wasn’t.
But when the police go to his flat, a further puzzle awaits: a four-year-old boy has been left there. He doesn´t know why he is there, he doesn´t seem to have any link with the victim and his parents cannot be found. Moreover his drawings show that he may have witnessed something terrible.
As the police is hunting the killer, and the child welfare is looking for the boy’s parents, the mystery unfolds: a story of violence, masculine entitlement, and revenge.
Gallows Rock is the fourth installment in the Children´s House series by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, a series that truly tends to get under your skin. On one hand the books are complex and interesting police procedurals, where the secrets are revealed little by little. On the other hand the stories dig deep into the darker parts of the Icelandic society and explore the long-lasting psychological effects of personal traumas. The author is a master in intertwining the different story lines and as a reader you get completely hooked, breathlessly waiting to find out what really had happened.
Freyja & Huldar
The crime-solving team in the Children´s House series is a somewhat odd but lovable duo: a police officer, Huldar, and a child psychologist, Freyja. They come from completely different backgrounds but have a certain chemistry between them. Their cooperation is sometimes charming and sometimes a bit comic, but their interaction helps to balance the grim and violent stories.
In Gallows Rock detective Huldar and his police colleagues play a major role, as they have to investigate a dark and very complex murder plot. Freyja has a minor part in this novel, which is a bit of a pity, since she is a very likeable and intriguing character. Hopefully, we will learn more about her in future books.
Gallows Rock is a self-contained mystery and can be read on its own, but I would recommend reading your way through the whole series, so you get to know Huldar and Freyja and the full scope of their relationship. Read more about the previous parts here.