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When a residential unit for disabled people is burned down, all the residents are killed bar one. Jakob has Downs Syndrome and a grievance - he never wanted to be placed in the unit and he doesn't like it there. It seems to be an open and shut case but, because of his disability, Jakob is sent to a secure psychiatric hospital rather than prison and it looks like he'll stay there for life. At least, until one of the other inmates asks lawyer Thóra Gudmundsdóttir to try to get the case reopened...

This is a very well written entry into the field of Nordic crime - Iceland, on this occasion - and the translation by Philip Roughton is first-rate. Apparently this is the fifth in the series, but it's the first I've read. The characterisation throughout the novel is particularly strong and Thóra herself is a likeable lead, strong and capable but with a soft centre. As well as dealing with the case, she's having to juggle home life as her parents move in on a temporary basis to a house already filled with Thóra's children, grandchild and partner, Matthew.

In the course of her investigation, Thóra has to deal with people with a variety of severe disabilities. Sigurdardóttir handles this well, managing to convey the difficulties they face without becoming overly mawkish or sentimental. Thóra's dealings with the relatives of the victims show her sensitivity, particularly when dealing with Jakob's mother. And her aversion to Jósteinn, the psychopathic child abuser who has hired her, grows steadily as she wonders what his motivation is for wanting to help Jakob. A sub-plot concerning a possible haunting is cut in to short sections between chapters and Sigurdardóttir's excellent writing makes this part of the story chillingly atmospheric and decidedly creepy. There's also a real sense of place in the novel, as the culture, weather and recent economic woes of Iceland all play their part.

Overall, a very satisfying read that, together with Läckberg's The Stranger, has reawakened my enthusiasm for Nordic crime. Highly recommended, and I look forward to backtracking through the rest of the series.
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on 17 May 2013
This is the fifth novel featuring the personable Reykjavik lawyer,
Thora Gudmundsdottir.
Josteinn is a manipulative sociopath who resides in a secure psychiatric
unit,having been convicted of sexual offences against children.With his
inheritence money he instructs Thora to investigate,with a view to
overturning,the conviction of a fellow inmate Jakob. Jakob is a young
male with Down's syndrome who has been found guilty of burning down his
care home ,killing five people.
The ever persistent Thora's investigations are hampered by some of the
witnesses having severe disablilities,including one with locked-in
syndrome,and also by the lies,half-truths,and cover-ups from people
with their own interests to protect.
A brave unusual and thoughtful thriller.
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I've been thoroughly enjoying this author's books, and working my way through them.

This story is one where Thóra gets involved with a case of a young man with Downs Syndrome who has been held responsible, through not convicted due to his inability to face criminal charges, for the burning down of a residential care facility and the resultant deaths of several people in the blaze. He is being held in a secure unit and one of the other unit residents wants to fund Jakob's retrial and release. Thóra finds herself questioning her decision to become involved with this entirely unpleasant man but her search for the truth leads her to some very strange places in this story. Along the way, there is some great interaction with her awful secretary Bella, who seems to be getting madder by the book, and with Matthew and Thóra's family.

These are absolutely fantastic books; the storyline is utterly enthralling (I read this book in less than 2 days, because I couldn't put it down), the characters are engaging, and the way the author weaves in some slightly eerie and weird circumstances into what appear on the surface to be more cut-and-dried legal cases really ramps up the tension. This is absolutely utterly wholeheartedly recommended, as are all of Yrsa Sigurdardottir's books.
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on 30 March 2014
Ysra is a wonderful and complete story teller. This is part ghost story, really scary at times and part crime mystery where the many layered plot reveal more crimes and incidents.
Following the horrific burning down of a residential care home; parties involved seem to be happy to rush to justice and a young man with Down's syndrome is found guilty of the arson, albeit not criminally liable.
He is sent to a psychiatric unit where another resident befriends him and engages lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottir to look into Jacob's case and prove his innocence.
All of Iceland's recent financial woes are cleverly linked in a number of references and through the lives of her characters who are struggling due to the economical downturn.
I liked the the straight forward linear story that paralleled Thora's investigation with the reader's own understanding; the exception is the frightening opening of haunting and paranormal events. This is spine-chilling and places you back reading "I Remember You" with 'all the lights on'. Another positive is that different stories are told outside of Thora's account that add depth to the novel without revealing any real insight to crack the case.
A great read from this accomplished novelist who continues to produce quality thrillers.
One of the few author's around I would like to meet. She has the power to make this grown man, through her writing, very scared; I'd like to normalise that and thank her personally for her profound writing.
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I've been thoroughly enjoying this author's books, and working my way through them, so was very excited to get hold of her latest publication (translated into English, even though I'm guessing it may have originally been published in Icelandic earlier than that, as the narrative covers the period 2008 to 2010).

This story is one where Thóra gets involved with a case of a young man with Downs Syndrome who has been held responsible, through not convicted due to his inability to face criminal charges, for the burning down of a residential care facility and the resultant deaths of several people in the blaze. He is being held in a secure unit and one of the other unit residents wants to fund Jakob's retrial and release. Thóra finds herself questioning her decision to become involved with this entirely unpleasant man but her search for the truth leads her to some very strange places in this story. Along the way, there is some great interaction with her awful secretary Bella, who seems to be getting madder by the book, and with Matthew and Thóra's family.

These are absolutely fantastic books; the storyline is utterly enthralling (I read this book in less than 2 days, because I couldn't put it down), the characters are engaging, and the way the author weaves in some slightly eerie and weird circumstances into what appear on the surface to be more cut-and-dried legal cases really ramps up the tension. This is absolutely utterly wholeheartedly recommended, as are all of Yrsa Sigurdardottir's books.
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on 24 June 2015
I've been impressed by the efforts of previous reviewers to summarise the plot, without giving away the ending. But in truth they manage only to summarise some strands of a highly complex & original work. The blurb summary - "creepy, compelling thriller" - gets nowhere near close enough. "Creepy" refers to the opening riff which introduces a ghost-haunting theme. "Compelling" is certainly one way of describing the quality of the writing but does not pay the tribute owed to the writer's originality & complexity. It is impossible to see where the plot is going for at least 90% of the book's length; & in the last 10% the author seemingly gives - & then retracts - an amazing variety of endings, finally (after the real denouement) going back to the ghost theme! I'm becoming more & more seduced by the Thora character (admirably offset by the qualities of her partner, the very grounded German Matthew. He is, clearly, there so the author can gently tease him for his more Teutonic moments which contrast with Thora's own dishevelled life-style). The Agatha Christie era airily invented "private investigators" of independent means to contrast with the bumbling efforts of the regular constabulary. That concept doesn't sell well in the modern era where gentlemen of independent means are more plausibly seen as bent on increasing their wealth or second-generation types of a sybaritic disposition. Thora, a lawyer in a post-bust Iceland, has to earn her living. Implausibly, the most disgusting character in the book offers to finance her investigation (for the benefit of the Downs-afflicted Jacob). The one loose end for me was - did she get paid? I fear she might not have been. Please will the author tell me in the next novel so I can stop worrying on Thora's behalf? And above all, will she please give us more (though, personally, I could do without Bella - who deserves the sack many times over. It strains credibility that even the sainted Thora can put up with her - OK, I know it is done for comic effect & very effective it is, too). My one real criticism is grammatical - & that must therefore go down to the translator. I have no idea how close the translator is to catching the idiom employed in the original Icelandic: but I have no quarrel with the demotic (as opposed to literary) language employed - it seems to me to suit the down-to-earth qualities of Thora. Perhaps the translator has therefore deliberately employed the constantly repeating grammatical error which so annoyed me, exemplified by this phrase" ... although she knew he wasn't quite as pleased as her." It seems to me that the translator is more likely to have started with whatever the Icelandic would be for the grammatically correct "he wasn't quite as pleased as SHE was". Why then, annoyingly, end the phrase with the incorrect HER?
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 13 November 2015
I bought this novel in response to the (mostly) positive reviews here on Amazon. I ended up very disappointed. I like Scandinavian crime fiction, and the backdrop of Iceland made for an interesting change, but this story never really got under my skin in the way that I had wanted or expected. I did like the examinations of all manner of mental illnesses, but even before the mid-way point I was beginning to get frustrated with its lack of breadth in terms of story scope. I cannot call this multi-layered, and as for the central character (Thóra Gudmundsdóttir) I can only say that she is very forgettable.

My plan had been to get the rest of the stories in the series (this one being the 5th) but I had decided to scrap that idea long before I finished this one. Sorry; this one's not my style at all. Mundane and mediocre.
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on 3 June 2016
Once again the story has different strands which are only woven together at the end of the tale. Thor's is centre stage as usual in this tale of death,disability and deceit. Another family crisis sees Thora's household expanding ever more but they take more of a back seat in this book. Matthew's Icelandic lessons have obviously gone well as he lends a hand interviewing some if the characters. The story is well woven and at times complex to follow but the plot is well imagined and well told.
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on 27 July 2013
Unlike a previous reviewer, I thought this was the best of Yrsa Sigurdardottir's 'Thora' books, from a technical point of view at least. I've often previously had the feeling that while her characters were well fleshed out and the dialogue good -- I'm thinking here particularly of the exchanges between Thora and Matthew -- the plots were less satisfactory and a bit clunky. (Compare this one with her first, Last Rituals, for example.)

What she has got spot-on here is a plot that is feasible and falls neatly into place. And to that she has added a supernatural dimension, which she makes it possible for you to discount or not, according to your taste, by providing an alternative rational explanation for anything 'ghostly'.

Cheerful it is not, however. Maybe in the Iceland of the time she was writing that was not to be expected, but this is an unremittingly dark book, with quite a few unpleasant characters. The only offset to that comes in the certainty at the end that the guilty are about to get their just desserts.
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on 12 September 2013
I remember you was one of my favourite reads of the year so far . I have read all of the thora books and I think the ghostly creepiness makes this the best . I do however find Thora one of the most annoying women I have ever read about , her opinions are very old fashioned and spinsterish and I do not understand the point of her constant moans re the useless secretary { I am guessing its humour that doesn't translate from the Icelandic ? } . Yrsa writes teenage books too and I think that some times shows in this series as there isn't the grit or the guts of my favourite Jo Nesbo , nor does she manage to create the homely characters of Camille Lackberg . The backdrop of the disabled home and of the paedophile in prison was a great story , just a shame the writing is a little tame, so the narrative lacks a dirty convincing sheen .
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