cover image The Legacy

The Legacy

Yrsa Sigurdardottir, trans. from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb. Minotaur, $25.99 (464p) ISBN 978-1-250-13626-8

This relentlessly paced series launch from Sigurdardottir (The Undesired) is as stark and horrifying as any of the ancient Icelandic sagas. In 1987, three orphaned siblings fall victim to bureaucratic exigency: the sister, because she is more desirable to potential adoptive parents, is separated from her two older brothers. Flash forward to 2015, when an intruder slips into the Reykjavík home of Elisa, a young mother, while her husband is away and brutally murders her. Huldar, a police detective shakily directing his first homicide investigation, joins forces with Freyja, a psychologist specializing in the care of traumatized children. Margrét, Elisa’s unhappy eldest child who was cowering under the bed where her mother was killed, gradually reveals clues to the killer’s identity. Meanwhile, Karl, a reclusive loner, untangles clues he hears on his ham radio. Sigurdardottir’s trademark sly ironies, often directed at official fumbling, can be downright ghoulish. Others are deliciously hilarious: Huldar and Freyja, pulled together for the case, realize they had a “well-oiled” one-night stand a little earlier. Each character is brilliantly conceived. Few readers will be able to put down this powerful tale of revenge. (Feb.)