Review: THE SILENCE OF THE SEA by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

TheSilenceOfTheSeaYrsa23616_fA luxury yacht crashes into Rekyavik Harbour one night without a soul on board and no immediate signs of foul play; the three-man crew and family of four who were travelling home from Portugal are just…gone. Lawyer Thóra Gudmundsdóttir is hired in desperation by an elderly couple who are looking after their toddler granddaughter. Their son, his wife and twin granddaughters were the family on board the boat and the grandparents need help accessing the family finances and retaining custody of – or at least access to – their remaining granddaughter. Thóra, like everyone else in the town, can’t help but get sucked into the mystery of what on earth could have happened to everyone. Interspersed with this unfolding storyline are chapters that take place on board the boat, before things went horribly awry.

If you head into this book without any expectation of a Larsson-esque Girl Who… book (i.e. ignore the moronic red splash on the cover) chances are you will not be disappointed by this creepy tale of things that go bump in the night at sea. Sigurdardottir does a great job of building the suspense from both ends and, as her books often do, incorporates just enough other-worldliness to ramp up the chill factor without making the storyline seem preposterous to those of us with a low tolerance for ‘woo woo’ elements. As a kind of floating locked-room mystery the plotting here is first rate and guaranteed to keep even seasoned genre fans guessing until the end.

As far as character development goes the novel is a little more prosaic. Thóra is her usual determined self, with a smattering of personal tribulations to deal with and needing to wrangle her office’s ever-useless receptionist, but series stalwarts won’t learn anything new about the heroine. Probably the most well-developed character is Ægir, the father who has taken his family aboard the ill-fated yacht on behalf of his company which is re-possessing it from its now bankrupt celebrity owners. It is from his point of view that half the narrative is revealed and his depiction as an increasingly confused and frightened father who wishes he could go back in time is a good one.

For my tastes this author’s previous novel was slightly superior to this one as I enjoyed the way it explored social themes more interestingly. Here I think that opportunity was largely missed as the potential subjects – such as the modern world’s obsession with celebrity and the fallout from the global financial crisis – were largely ignored. However it’s a top notch plot-driven novel and scores high marks for its chill factor.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I have reviewed all but one of this novel’s predecessors including LAST RITUALS (#1),  MY SOUL TO TAKE (#2), ASHES TO DUST (#3, a mini review) and SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME (#5)

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Translator Victoria Cribb
Publisher Hodder & Stoughton [2014]
ISBN 9781444734461
Length 420 pages
Format paperback
Book Series #6 in the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series

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9 Responses to Review: THE SILENCE OF THE SEA by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

  1. Jose Ignacio says:

    I’m probably reading this book asa I finished the one I’m reading just now. Then I’ll give your review a closer look Bernadette.


  2. Sounds good, shame that every writer has to be called so-and-so’s Steig Larsson though!


    • Isn’t it Cathy? Several of the Amazon reviews of this book are low stars precisely because it isn’t like Stieg Larsson and I feel sympathy for them (it was promised). Also feel sympathy for the author who has no say in this kind of packaging. I guess the publishers don’t care if people like a book – only that they buy it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like this series very much, Bernadette, so it’s good to know that this one is a quality entry into it. I do like the way the novels show you the human side of the characters without spending so much time on ‘home life’ issues that the plot is lost. Looking forward to reading it.


  4. Given my low tolerance for being on a boat at sea, this book’s premise alone creeps me out! Nice review, as always, Bernadette.


    • Oh my “if I won the big lottery” dream is to endlessly sail the world Angela – but the book hasn’t put me off (though I hardly ever buy lotto tickets so it’s not exactly a probability in my future)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. kathy d. says:

    Interesting. Which is the book in the series that you are referring to? I can’t keep track of the order.


    • The previous book is Someone to Watch Over Me – it was about a fire in a facility for in which people with a range of disabilities were living – it did a great job of exploring the notion of how society treats people with disabilities


  6. kathy d. says:

    Oh, will put in on the TBR list (sigh).


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