Yrsa Sigurðardóttir (pronounced Ur-suh SIG-ur-dar-daughter) has been labeled “Iceland’s answer to Stieg Larsson.” She is also a director of one of Iceland’s largest engineering firms. She has written both children’s books and thrillers. Her books have achieved both popular and critical success. The “UK Sunday Times called ‘Someone to Watch’ the Crime Novel of the Year.” It has also been shortlisted for the 2014 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year. Yrsa’s books are on the bestsellers lists all over the world. Several of her books are currently in production for films. This is the fifth book in the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series.
The main character in “Someone to Watch Over Me” is Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, a lawyer in Iceland. She has been hired to look into the conviction of Jakob, a young man with Down Syndrome, accused of burning down his assisted living facility and killing five people. In order to clear him, she needs to determine if he or someone else set the fire. This task is complicated by the fact that some of the residents are now dead or extremely handicapped. She also needs to determine what this has to do, if anything, with a hit and run that killed a young woman.
Even in translation the book reads as poetry with a very literary approach. The description of the cat in the preface hooked me immediately into wanting to read the book.
The setting of the book, in Iceland during the recession, fascinated me. I felt like I was there and understood the intimate setting of this country – how closely related people were. The financial crisis was felt by the main character. Her parents had to sell their home to pay debts and were staying with her in her already overcrowded house, which included her boyfriend, her young child, her older son and his girlfriend.
The plot was intriguing. Thora had to learn to communicate with one paralyzed individual without speaking ability using only eye movement. She also needed to analyze the strange comments of her mentally retarded client and the drawings of an autistic resident. I didn’t figure out the ending until it was presented.
I recommend this book. I think book clubs would find it the story itself interesting and could also discuss Iceland’s internal, economic and social issues and how they compare to the United States.
Five stars out of five.
In accordance with FTC guidelines for reviewers, I would like to clarify that this book was provided to me by the publisher free of charge. I am not compensated by the author or publisher for my review. All they expect is an honest review of the work.