‘Mummy dead.’ The child’s pure treble was uncomfortably clear. It was the last thing Brynjar – and doubtless the others – wanted to hear at that moment. ‘Daddy dead.’ It got worse. ‘Adda dead. Bygga dead.’ The child sighed and clutched her grandmother’s leg. ‘All dead.’
A luxury yacht arrives in Reykjavik harbour with nobody on board. What has happened to the crew, and to the family who were on board when it left Lisbon?
Thora Gudmundsdottir is hired by the young father’s parents to investigate, and is soon drawn deeper into the mystery. What should she make of the rumours saying that the vessel was cursed, especially given that when she boards the yacht she thinks she sees one of the missing twins? Where is Karitas, the glamorous young wife of the yacht’s former owner? And whose is the body that has washed up further along the shore?
The Silence of the Sea was my first read of 2017 (though obviously not my first review, I’m not that efficient) and I have to say I’m really glad that I chose it. It was a good start to my reading year and has convinced me I need to read more books by an author who writes chilling tales but has a name I will never be able to pronounce.
Much like the first book I read by Sigurdardottir, Why Did You Lie? there is a slightly spooky element to The Silence of the Sea which sets it apart from other books of the genre and leaves you with plenty to figure out and make best guesses at. And how much spookier could a ship with new crew and passengers running aground be, especially on a dark, cold and rainy night in Iceland. Add to that the ships reputation as being cursed and bringing those who own it nothing but bad luck and you have a real page turner.
The bad luck in this case starts with a rich man and his beautiful wife who end up not so rich and unable to pay for their luxury yacht, leaving it stranded in Lisbon. It’s the job of Aegir to make sure it makes it back to it’s new owners (and also the bank he works for) safely. Unfortunately, things don’t quite go to plan when a member of the crew breaks their leg. To make sure they can set off on time, he volunteers to take the crew members place, setting off with his family on what will be a fatal voyage.
In Iceland, Thora is a lawyer hired by Aegir’s parents to help them keep their granddaughter and make claim on any insurance money. Slowly, she begins to try to unpick just what happened to Aegir, his family and – as a result – the rest of the crew, convinced it isn’t possible for everyone to be lost at sea but also not sure she wants to think of the consequences – including that Aegir is on the run for reasons unknown.
I say slowly because that’s the pace of this book. It doesn’t throw things at you but reveals them bit by bit, lulling you into a false sense of security at times before throwing a curve ball and making you sit up and take notice. The pace might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I didn’t mind it. It made me feel like I was getting to think through what was happening and come to my own (wrong) conclusions.
As Thora works in the present to find answers, revealing secrets and unearthing red herrings, the past is revealed in alternating chapters, telling just what happened to everyone on board. Again, there are twists, turns and plenty of suspects. Nothing is as it seems, which for a reader is great. Every time I thought I’d figured it out, I found I hadn’t. Plus the setting was good, lots to make it seem creepy and you feel that danger lurked around every corner and behind every wave.
Thora is a great character, tenacious and caring and I liked her and her slightly annoying but still interesting secretary Bella who helped her in her investigation. It was hard to say with Aegir and his family, though the captain of the ship I did think was really well written. I could picture him, hardened by years at sea and experienced enough to take on most things. Aegir I was up and down with, liking him one minute, not the next and finding him quite weak and frustrating in others – but then he is at sea with a bunch of strangers, potentially murderous ones, and has a family to protect so maybe I’m being a bit picky here.
This uncertainty about Aegir certainly didn’t stop me enjoying the book, which I most certainly did. I thought it was a clever idea, well executed and well written. I found I couldn’t put it down and couldn’t stop turning pages and – as a result – have to say I liked it a lot.
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 26th March, 2015 (first published 2011)