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Book Review: The Undesired by Yrsa Sigurdardottir *****

UK Publication Date: 22 Oct 2015. 270 pages.
In recent years the Northern Europeans seem to have become the masters of the murder suspense genre. Authors like Jo Nesbo and Stieg Larsson have become synonymous with the dark and brooding crime fiction of Scandi Noir but you can’t rule out the Icelanders who manage to create characters so beguiling that they put their own peculiar slant on things.

“The Undesired” is a book that could only have been written by an Icelander. Their acceptance of the supernatural and all things spooky underscores this story that will leave you checking all the shadows and wanting to sleep with the light on. It is a perfect winter read suited to the dark nights and in the run up to Halloween it seems like the ideal choice. It can take a little while to get used to the Icelandic names but there is a useful pronunciation guide in the book and personally I find them fascinating and it adds to the charm.

The book has two different narrative threads. The first is set in the 1970s. Aldis is working in a juvenile detention centre in rural Iceland. She witnesses something deeply disturbing in the middle of the night; soon afterwards, two of the boys at the centre are dead.

Decades later, single father Odinn is looking into cases of alleged abuse at the centre following the unexplained death of the colleague who was previously running the investigation. The more he looks into the case, the more it seems the events of the 1970s are linked to the accident that killed his ex-wife. He starts to wonder if they are linked and if it is something much more sinister. As the story unfolds you’ll find yourself clenching your toes and checking every strange noise. While “The Undesired” takes a little while to get going, you’ll soon find yourself completely engrossed in the unfolding drama.

Yrsa Sigurdardottir also writes a compelling, dramatic crime series that features ordinary Icelandic men and women. This series of books features amateur detective Thora Gudmundsdottir. Thora is a working Mum who is trying to juggle the demands of a family with her job as a solicitor in Reykjavik. If you are looking for more Icelandic fiction check out the rest of Yrsa’s books. They range from “Columbo“ style detective fiction to full blown horror.

Supplied by Net Galley and the Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

You can buy the book here: The Undesired

Categories: 5 Stars Book Review

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Prolific reader, enthusiastic theatre and movie-goer and ex-Olivier Awards judge who spent twenty years working in the music industry in London. Sharing my house with a gorgeous cockapoo called Harry who has taken over completely.
I love sharing my favourite books with friends - nearly always spoiler-free as I hate reading a synopsis of the whole book in other reviews.


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