Iceland´s Queen of Crime

The absolution by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

A young woman is found brutally murdered in her own home, with the only witness her little  daughter, who was hiding under the bed during the attack. But the girl doesn´t speak. This dark and saddening tale takes place in 2015, but it has its beginning in 1987, when child experts made the crucial decision to separate three children into different adoption homes. The Legacy is the first installment in the Children’s House series by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and introduces police detective Huldar, who in partnership with a child psychologist Freyja, must determine exactly what this little girl saw – and catch her mother’s killer before he strikes again.

In the follow-up, The Reckoning, the author picks up where The Legacy left off, and explores the longstanding implications of childhood trauma in another complicated case. This time Huldar and Freyea find themselves immersed in a bizarre mystery: a school’s time capsule is opened after ten years, and in it is discovered a note predicting the deaths of six people. A child wrote it… it can’t be real, can it?

The Absolution is the recently released third novel in the series, and here Freyja and Huldar must stop a ruthless killer taking revenge on teenage bullies. The police find out about the crime on Snapchat, where videos show the terrified victim begging for forgiveness. And when her body is found, it is marked with a number 2… Another teenager goes missing, and more clips are sent. Freyja and Huldar can agree on two things at least: the truth is far from simple – and the killer is not done yet.

If Arnaldur Indridasson is the undisputed king of Icelandic crime fiction, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir must be the Queen. She is an award-winning, best-selling crime novelist, whose fame started with the series starring Thóra Gudmundsdóttir. In her new Children´s House series, sometimes called the Freyja and Huldar series, she manifests what a master storyteller she is. The novels are  partly police procedurals, that methodically reveals layer upon layer of ingenious and gripping stories, but are at the same time captivating and suspenseful psychological thrillers, that keep you guessing until the last page.

The series is set in Reykjavík and you get glimpses not only of the cold and windy Icelandic weather but also of the Icelandic society and its failings to protect its minors. The two protagonists Huldar and Freyea have to work together, but there is also a romantic tension between them and the development of their relationship provides much-needed relief from the dark and grim narratives. Each book focuses on a special case and you do not have to read the books in order, but doing so will enrich your understanding of the main characters and their personal stories. You can´t help caring for them.


Librarian, lecturer and entrepreneur - and a fan of thought-provoking crime fiction from the Nordic countries