Friday, May 29, 2020

Review: The Absolution by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

The Absolution (Children's House, Book #3)
by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Release Date; February 11th 2020
2020 Minotaur Books
Kindle Edition; 368 Pages
ISBN: 978-9250136305
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

The police find out about the crime the way everyone does: on Snapchat. The video shows a terrified young woman begging for forgiveness. When her body is found, it is marked with a number "2".

Detective Huldar joins the investigation, bringing child psychologist Freyja on board to help question the murdered teenager's friends. Soon, they uncover that Stella was far from the angel people claim, but who could have hated her enough to kill?

Then another teenager goes missing, more clips are sent to social media, and the body with a "3" is found. Freyja and Huldar can agree on two things at least: the truth is far from simple. The killer is not done yet. And is there an undiscovered body carrying the number "1" out there?

The Absolution is the third book in the Children's House series, and I have to say I am a huge fan of Huldar as well as these types of police procedurals.  I thought the book was well-plotted, with lots of twists and turns, and I definitely liked how it all came together in the end.  What actually did turn me off this one was Freyja; I wasn't fond of her before and this one didn't endear me to her either.  

The main theme of this book was bullying, something that is quite near and dear to me, especially as a teacher.  It quite literally permeates the entire book, from the main characters to the victims, from in-school bullying to online bullying, it covers the whole gamut of the horrible effects of bullying.  Personally, I am glad to see a book like this come out as I don't think there are enough discussions about bullying and the devastating consequences, some that affect people for the rest of their lives.  Freyja herself had been affected by bullying during her teenage yesrs and this case brought back memories she thought she had left behind.  

The plot itself moves rather quickly, jumping from one event to another, with one plot twist after another, in this author's classic style.  While it is always best to start at the beginning of a series, this book can definitely be read as a stand alone as there is nothing revelatory in previous novels you need to know.  I enjoy this author's style of writing and because I've read so much of her work, can easily separate the red herrings from what is truth.  
I did have a problem with a couple of things however, one being Freyja herself.  For whatever reason, I just can't seem to empathize with this character.  She seems rather selfish to me, and I am not a fan of how she uses Huldar for her own purposes. Can't get a date to her school reunion?  Other boy toy turned out to be unreliable, so let's ask Huldar to jump in, but then offer no explanations for her behaviour at said reunion.  I think we call that using someone in my world.!!  The other issue I had was with the character development, in particular, with the victims and the ones who did the actual bullying.  I really felt like the author used some pretty stereotypical modelling here and really tried to make the 'bullies' seem like 'bad guys'.  Oh, don't get me wrong, what they did was horrible and should never have happened.  But I would have liked to see the author write a broader outline of the bullying and not make it seem so narrow, or so black and white.  There is so much between in these cases that was not explored.   And I think the author is a better writer than that.

The Absolution was an interesting book about the effects of bullying and the consequences of that bullying.  I thought the plot moved rather quickly, leaving the reader rather breathless as they moved from event to event, and while I liked most of the main characters, I just could not get a handle on Freyja, something over which I felt badly, but there it is.  Do I recommend this book? Yes. I am a huge fan of this author and love that the setting is in Iceland.  She also has another series, the Thóra Gudmundsdóttirseries, that I would recommend.  If you are looking for some Icelandic crime fiction, this may be one for you.


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