I read so much crime fiction that I sometimes think it has lost the power to shock me. I know this hasn’t spilled into real life as I find some of the crimes that I read in newspapers horrific. However, when it comes to fiction, very little distresses me these days. For a book to stand out it either has to be innovative, for example Pierre LeMaitre’s Irene, or well written such as K T Medina’s White Crocodile. However, Silence of the Sea, the latest book by the queen of Icelandic crime fiction, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, truly gave me the chills and I was rightly dreading the ending. It’s, without doubt, her best book yet.
Ægir travels to Portugal to deal with the paperwork to repossess a yacht from a millionaire hit by the financial crisis. He takes his wife and twin daughters along for a holiday but when an accident incapacitates one of the crew, Aegir agrees to help sail the yacht back to Iceland. However, the crew resent the family’s presence and an air of malevolence hangs over the ship. A portrait of the wealthy wife of the former owner fascinates the twins and they claim to have seen the woman wondering the ship. When a body is found in a freezer, it unleashes a chain of events that imperil the family. Weeks later, the abandoned yacht arrives in Iceland with no trace of the occupants. Lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottir is employed by the parents of the missing father to discover what became of the family.
Silence of the Sea brings together two strands of this author’s writing. It’s the latest book in the series featuring lawyer Thora but also has echoes of I Remember You, Yrsa’s supernatural thriller. For much of the book, it’s not clear whether there are paranormal forces at work but the eeire emptiness of the vast ocean adds to the sense of impending doom.
The book is part locked room mystery and, hopefully without giving too much of the plot away, reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Both narratives work equally well: that of the fate of the ship’s passengers and Thora’s subsequent investigation. I found the book to be both compelling and shocking and was, ultimately, glad to reach the end.
Thanks to Hodder for my review copy. The translation is by Victoria Cribb.