Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb
Minotaur Books (Released
Paperbacks (April, 2020)
Children’s House (Book 3 of 3)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
By all accounts, Stella is a normal young woman, popular and friendly. That she is not universally loved becomes apparent when she is brutally murdered in a deserted movie theater. The killer posts live pictures of her last moments to all her followers on Snap Chat. With her body is a cryptic note: “2.” The body of another victim, a young man from a wealthy family, is discovered soon after, with a note saying “3.” His murder is also captured on Snap Chat. At the end of the videos, each victim repeats the words “I’m sorry” over and over until they die.
Homicide Detective Huldar and his partner Gudlaugur are assigned to go through all the ticket sales on the day Stella was murdered, and to interview the victim’s friends. The partners are on their boss’s, Erla’s, bad side because of a previous issue, and she gives them pointless assignments as punishment. Huldar gets permission to bring in child psychologist Frejya for assistance in questioning the teens. Erla doesn’t expect much of them, but she will find she has greatly underestimated them all.
The team all agree on three points: the case is far more complicated than it appears; the killer is not done; and there may be a victim #1 yet to be found. Huldar and Frejya have a history together, which makes things tense at times, but they don’t let it get in the way of the investigation. What they find is deeply disturbing and dangerous: the victims are not the innocents they had appeared to be. As the killer ups the ante, the three race to find him – or her – before they strike again.
There have always been bullies, there have always been victims. The internet and social media have raised bullying to a monstrous level, with no end in sight. THE ABSOLUTION is a cautionary tale for our times, a chilling thriller, and one of the best in the increasingly popular Nordic noir genre. The frigid, brooding atmosphere in the Icelandic city of Reykjavik adds to the darkness and danger of the story.
This is the third in the Children’s House Book series, following THE LEGACY and THE RECKONING. The author also writes the Thora Gudmundsdottir series, as well as several stand-alone thrillers. Highly recommended.
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