30 July 2015

Review: THE SILENCE OF THE SEA, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

  • first published in Icelandic in 2011
  • translated into English by Victoria Cribb 2014
  • this edition published by Hodder & Stoughton 
  • ISBN 978-1-444-73446-1
  • source: my local library
  • #6 in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series
 Synopsis (publisher)

An abandoned yacht, a young family missing - chilling crime from the queen of Nordic Noir.

The most chilling novel yet from Yrsa Sigurdardottir, an international bestseller at the height of her powers.

'Mummy dead.' The child's pure treble was uncomfortably clear. It was the last thing Brynjar - and doubtless the others - wanted to hear at that moment. 'Daddy dead.' It got worse. 'Adda dead. Bygga dead.' The child sighed and clutched her grandmother's leg. 'All dead.' 

A luxury yacht arrives in Reykjavik harbour with nobody on board. What has happened to the crew, and to the family who were on board when it left Lisbon?

Thora Gudmundsdottir is hired by the young father's parents to investigate, and is soon drawn deeper into the mystery. What should she make of the rumours saying that the vessel was cursed, especially given that when she boards the yacht she thinks she sees one of the missing twins? Where is Karitas, the glamorous young wife of the yacht's former owner? And whose is the body that has washed up further along the shore?

My Take

This is an amazing novel, told on two planes.

The opening scene is of a fabulous yacht, several decks high, coming into Reykjavik harbour. On the wharf waiting for it are an old couple with a young granddaughter, a man with his leg in a cast, and the harbour master. Something is wrong. The yacht makes no attempt to slow down and it crashes into the wharf. No one appears on deck and it becomes apparent that there is nobody aboard. The incident makes the headlines of Reykjavik news.

Thora Gundmundsottir comes into the story when the elderly parents of the young father who should have been on board employ her to deal with the paperwork of proving their son must be dead, and with claiming his life insurance. Thora gets in touch with the various authorities including the police, and so one plane of the story is narrated from the standpoint of after the event, trying to work out what happened.

The second narration comes from those who are on board the yacht as the events unfold. What should have been an adventure for the young family, passengers on the yacht being sailed from Lisbon to Reykjavik, turns to horror as a body is discovered stored in a freezer and an elusive perfume convinces them that there is somebody else on board.

There is plenty of mystery for the reader to work out, and in the long run, I'm sure you will agree with the judges of the 2015 Petrona Award, given annually in memory of Maxine Clarke, that this is one not to be missed.

My rating: 5.0

I've also reviewed 4.8, SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME
I certainly have a few titles to catch up with.

The series (list from EuroCrime)
Thora Gudmundsdottir, Lawyer
Last Rituals20071
My Soul to Take20092
Ashes to Dust20103
The Day is Dark20114
• Someone to Watch Over Me20135
• The Silence of the Sea20146

Look also for
I Remember You2012
• The Undesired2015


Kay said...

I haven't read other books in this series, but I'm thinking I might just go ahead and read this one. It sounds so good! Can understand why it won the award.

Anonymous said...

Very glad you enjoyed this one, Kerrie. She does do some fine novels.


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