Today I am delighted to share my thoughts on The Fallout, part of the Children’s House series by Yrsa Sigurdardottir. I have loved reading this series and getting to know Huldar and Freyja. Thanks to publisher Hodder & Stoughton for the advance copy of the book via Netgalley. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
A murdered woman. A missing child. And a father intent on revenge.
On a cold day in Reykjavik, a baby goes missing from her pram. When the child’s blanket washes up on the beach, and the mother is found dead, everyone’s worst fears seem to have been realised.
Eleven years later, and detective Huldar and child psychologist Freyja are now working in the same police building, on the same team. Freyja believes that personal and professional relationships must remain separate, however hard that may be. But when a woman’s dismembered body is found in a deserted car, her head missing, and Freyja and Huldar find themselves working on the same case, the secrecy around their affair threatens to crack. And when Freyja is accused of a serious breach of police protocol, will Huldar be able to help her? Meanwhile, their search to identify the body takes the case back into secrets of the past, and the unspoken crimes that bind three separate families.
The Silence is the gripping and terrifying new novel from the acclaimed author of international bestsellers The Doll and Gallows Rock.
This series of books has always had a deeply emotional core. Yes – that has often come with a ruck load of smile producing carnage and delightfully gruesome murder attached, but there is no denying that the issues that are confronted are thought provoking and often highly emotive. That is especially true of The Fallout which is, as ever, very timely and relevant and all too scarily plausible in parts. The murders may have come down a notch in terms of skin crawling darkness, but they are still a cut (or chop) above your average domestic homicide and all too frustrating for Erla, Huldar and the team to solve, in part because getting the identity of the victim is proving more than a little challenging.
I do love Huldar and Freyja as characters. They are two who I was drawn to from the very first book and their tumultuous relationship, has led to many a smile as i’ve read through the pages. Huldar is a fairly traditional cop, determined, but not ambitious, slightly squeamish which, given the kinds of cases he’s been faced with over the course of the series still makes me smile, and totally fascinated and hopeful when it comes to his relationship with Freyja. Freyja is focused, kind, empathetic and someone who maybe protests a touch too much when it comes to Huldar’s attentions. It’s fair to say that they haven’t had the most straightforward of friendships – a little stretching of the truth and a work demotion will tend to put a dampener on a blossoming romance – but there is no denying the chemistry between them and the will-they/won’t-they element of the series has been a real draw. Then there is Erla, Huldar’s boss, one time lover and a general pain in his rear but someone he does respect and who, despite her gruff exterior and no-nonsense attitude, also makes me smile. There is something about her directness which makes her a likeable if disagreeable character. And there are some comical moments and surprising revelations with regards to Erla, especially after the bombshell dropped last time around.
As for the story, it is very relevant in today’s society, given the whole rise in challenge and debate over the vaccinations for Covid-19. This is not the premise of this book, but the whole aspect of the anti-vax movement and the potential impact of parents who choose or maybe even just neglect to get their children vaccinated. Add into that a shocking scene which opens the book and seems almost incongruous to the rest of the story for a while, and the scene is set for a very emotive story. Yrsa Sigurdardottir excels in wringing out every ounce of emotion from the book, making the characters individual collective stories so evocative that you cannot help but feel for them. The sense of loss is palpable but so is the anger and the central investigation for Huldar and co seems, at times, almost secondary to the course of the book, even though it is a vital part of the whole picture. Once again children are the key to everything, but in what context is very slowly and carefully revealed.
There is a lot of suspense and mystery in this book, but perhaps less an immediate sense of threat that in some of its predecessors. That’s not a bad thing, and totally suits the tone and theme of the story. Pacing is just right and picks up in the exact spot where, as readers, we realise something catastrophic may be about to begin. It is a book packed with mystery – not least the first victim’s identity – but with so many more questions beside, and a book that will make you think. For me, I know exactly which side of the debate I sit on with regards to vaccinations, but many opinions will differ, and often for very good reason. But the devastating impact of one quick decision cannot be denied and has overwhelming consequence for others, hence the very appropriate title of the book. The tone is pitched perfectly, melancholic, driven by the notion of family and children which has always been key, but with a mixture of lightheartedness and chilling atmosphere which kept me entirely pulled into the story.
And then the ending. Unexpected – to a point – there did come a time when I had an inkling but it’s still a bit of a shocker seeing it in black and white. It’s a turning point in many relationships in this book, leaving us with a kind of sense of hope, maybe a thawing of feeling between Freyja and Huldar, and a perfect place to leave the team. I’ve loved these books and loved getting to know Yrsa Siguardaottir’s work. Can’t wait to read more of her books in the future.
About the Author
Author of the bestselling Thora Gudmundsdottir crime series and several stand-alone thrillers, Yrsa Sigurdardottir was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1963 and works as a civil engineer. She made her crime fiction debut in 2005 with LAST RITUALS, the first instalment in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series, and has been translated into more than 30 languages. Her work stands ‘comparison with the finest contemporary crime writing anywhere in the world’ according to the Times Literary Supplement. The second instalment in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series, MY SOUL TO TAKE, was shortlisted for the 2010 Shamus Award. In 2011 her stand-alone horror novel I REMEMBER YOU was awarded the Icelandic Crime Fiction Award and was nominated for The Glass Key, and has been made into a film starring Jóhannes Haukur by ZikZak Filmworks. In 2015 THE SILENCE OF THE SEA won the Petrona Award for the year’s best Scandinavian crime novel, and THE LEGACY, the first novel in the Freyja and Huldar series, was nominated for The Glass Key and won the Icelandic Crime Fiction Award. All of her books have been European bestsellers.