Silence of the sea

I'm a huge fan of the Icelandic writer, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, but my latest read by her - The silence of  the sea - took my breath away. It was a haunting, chilling novel which completely gripped me.

When a luxury yacht arrives in Reykjavik Harbour it hits the news headlines for all the wrong reasons, as its passengers and crew have completely disappeared. Lawyer Thora Gudmansdottir is asked to investigate the disappearance of the family who were formerly on board - Mother, Father, and young twin daughters, in order to sort out an insurance claim on behalf of their only surviving child. It's hard not to be moved by the disappearance of the children, especially in such unusual circumstances, but as one body from the vessel drifts to shore, and another is found in particularly macabre circumstances, there's also an urgent need to find a murderer, who is probably still out there...

Yrsa writes beautifully; and this novel flows effortlessly from the investigation post-crime and back to the actual events on board the boat before melding them back together at the very end. She's also very clever at disclosing what the reader needs to know while making sure that they're not given too much information too soon. As a result the novel is a sterling example of a modern day "locked-room" mystery with a touch of a ghost story, and a thumping good detective tale too. It's more than just a classic detective story though, there is real emotion in this, and you'd have to be a very hardened reader indeed not to be moved by the answer to the riddle of the missing children.

It's a very dark novel, but there are also wonderfully comedic moments; not least the relationship between Thora and her dysfunctional secretary, Bella. Bella's character is much more developed in Silence of the sea than in previous novels, and is a surprisingly entertaining one, leavening the darkest moments with some welcome light. This novel held me captivated while I was reading it, and has haunted me ever since. I've always enjoyed Yrsa Sigurdardottir's writing, but this is one of her very best.


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