Kin by Snorri Kristjansson
|Kin by Snorri Kristjansson|
|Category: Crime (Historical)|
|Reviewer: Mary Waterfall|
|Summary: Kin is a dark sumptuous, lively tale, which delves beneath the veneer of family blood ties. All families have secrets, betrayals that erupt into arguments and spite. Slights nurtured and fanned until they flare into feuds. Kristjansson weaves a riveting journey as the mystery unfurls with tantalising timing.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: March 2018|
|Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Unnthor Reginsson is the uncrowned king of the valley; retired Viking farmer and rumoured owner of a large hoard of gold. He is gathering his clan, a grand reunion after ten years of absence. It is time for strengthening family bonds, feasting, telling tall tales and remembering shared history.
Wife, mother and unofficial leader of the clan, Hildigunner, knits the threads of the family firmly together. With a well-timed whisper here or a sigh there, she manoeuvres them all within the welcoming nest she has prepared.
The main character Helga is the adopted child of Unnthor and Hildigunner. She has lived with them as their beloved daughter for eleven years. Too young to remember when the family were last together the plot unfolds through her eyes. The darker heart of the family is revealed by her keen intelligence as she becomes reacquainted with her siblings.
Kristjansson's use of conversation elegantly depicts the complexity of the family, allowing the story to flow without having to check back to a family tree. The action is led by engaging, well rounded and likeable characters, but their larger than life, gregarious and argumentative natures soon begin to unravel. Petty slights, deep-seated rivalry and greed all become credible motives for the crime and every suspect is convincing.
Description of place and time conjures up a dreamlike safe space and contrasts well with the stark depiction of the crime. Background historical detail captures the sense of place without overloading the story with an array of historical facts. The pace creates a menacing sense of urgency, Helga becoming desperate to find the killer as time is running out. The family are closing rank, their fingers pointing blame at a convenient scapegoat, one too vulnerable to defend themselves.
The remote setting of Viking village, the historical period and Helga's character are very refreshing. Thankfully there will soon be another crime for her to solve.
People who enjoy historical fiction with a darker side may also like Karen Maitland's work. The stories are set in a different time period to Kin, and have an added dash of the supernatural but are a similar exploration of the murky motivations of human nature.
You can read more book reviews or buy Kin by Snorri Kristjansson at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Kin by Snorri Kristjansson at Amazon.com.
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