The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir

Yrsa Sigurdardóttir is one of Iceland’s best-selling crime fiction authors. She has previously written a series about the attorney Thóra Gudmundsdóttir. This is the first novel with child psychologist Freyja and police officer Huldar.

I hesitated reading a novel that takes place in the winter when it is summer, but when I finally started I finished it pretty quickly. It is quite suspenseful, but be aware there are many brutal murders. The prologue sets the tone when a few children are taken in custody by the Social Services after a family tragedy and you realize that this will never end well…

Huldar is put in charge of a murder investigation. The first murder of a middleclass woman was witnessed by the victim’s daughter, so they ask child psychologist Freya for assistance. Huldar and Freyja have met before, a meeting that ended in an embarrassing way and it makes the collaboration somewhat uncomfortable.

In parallel we follow a young radio amateur nerd. When he suddenly starts receiving strange coded messages he becomes obsessed with solving the code. Soon he realizes that it is connected to the murders, but how? It does not help that his only two friends do not believe him.

This is a good and pretty classic police novel with interesting characters and a nicely constructed murder mystery. I enjoy the debate about what is nature versus nurture. Is it always best to know the truth about one’s background? And what can the truth do to a person? Some Icelandic crime novels have plenty of descriptions of a barren gloomy landscape, and luckily it is missing from this novel.

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