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I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

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Superior nordic noir storytelling

The Legacy: Children's House, Book 1 - Yrsa Sigurdardóttir,  Victoria Cribb (Translator)

Scandanavian noir is a type of crime fiction that is written with a certain realistic style that is both dark and morally challenging. In some ways it is akin to the revered English author Agatha Christie where the players are introduced, analysed and in a complex series of incidents the murderer is exposed. Although The Legacy is strictly set in Iceland I have taken the liberty of categorizing it under Scandi/Nordic noir as it contains many of the latter's  storytelling characteristics.


Detective Huldar is investigating the murder of Elisa Freysteinsson and the only witness to this horrific crime is her 7 year old daughter Margret, so traumatised by the event that she is naturally unable to communicate just exactly what she witnessed. In desperation Huldar turns his attention to an organisation known as Children's House and in particular Freyja whose field of expertise is dealing with traumatised young people. This is a difficult situation for Huldar as he had recently been involved in a short, intense relationship with Freyja which must now be set aside in the interest of justice and the care and management of a very frightened young girl.


Yrsa Sigurdardottir's style of writing is unhurried, descriptive and yet so involving. It rewards a patient reader with a superb piece of storytelling that gradually and systematically analyses and disregards the irrelevant finally exposing the perpetrator. What is the significance of using an electric appliance as a murder weapon? What are the strange short wave number codes received by a socially inept shy Karl? As the murder count rises and progress falters Huldar must use all his cunning and experience to find answers and to encourage the young Margret to reveal just who she saw on the night her mother was killed.


I work within the legal system and was very impressed how the author managed the rather delicate conversations and interviews that Freyja was obligated to implement with a very frightened child. The success or otherwise of the investigation rested to a greater part on the outcome of these interviews, would a young Margret gradually reveal the one piece of information that Huldar so desperately needed?


Many thanks to the publisher Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a gratis copy of The Legacy in return for an honest review, and that is what I have written.