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by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir and Victoria Cribb, trans.
Thomas Dunne Books, February 2016
336 pages
ISBN: 1250051487

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On a bitterly cold winter night, four people anxiously await the return of a yacht to the Reykjavik harbor. But when the boat finally arrives, it crashes into the wharf and—more mysteriously— there's no one onboard. The captain, two crew members and a family sailing with them are all missing.

Lawyer Thóra Gudmundsdóttir is pulled into the strange case when she is hired by the parents of Ægir, who had been traveling with his wife Lára and 8-year-old twin daughters. The family had left behind their youngest daughter, a toddler, and the elderly couple is now seeking insurance money in order to care for her. But Thóra must first prove to an overseas insurance company that, although their bodies have not been recovered, the family is likely dead.

The chapters with Thóra alternate with those of Ægir and his family aboard the luxury yacht. Ægir, a representative of the bank that repossessed the boat from its owner, had not initially been set to sail on the luxury yacht. From their first days on the yacht, the family is filled with unease. The twin girls dream of the previous owner's wife, Karítas, well known in the gossip columns of newspapers, and the family keeps smelling her perfume in the yacht's corridors. The twins insist that Karítas wants to harm them. As it turns out, Karítas has also suddenly disappeared.

Yrsa Sigurdardóttir is a master of mixing gothic elements into her mysteries. As in her other novels, there's an element of the supernatural. Even Thóra, visiting the damaged boat, thinks she sees a ghost. Could tales of the yacht being cursed be true?

As conditions grow more dangerous on the yacht, we see the family's peril grow. There may be a killer among them, and distrust grows between the crew and the family. Will any of them escape? Thóra, on her end, tries to piece together what happened with just a few clues and even fewer witnesses. This is the sixth entry in a series, but the reader does not need to have read the previous books. There is little about Thóra's personal life story in this one, and the book focuses tightly on the mystery. And the mystery is very good—suspenseful, eerie and cleverly done. Yrsa combines traditional Agatha Christie-like elements with a modern, intriguing story.

§ Lourdes Venard is an independent editor who divides her time between New York and Maui.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, February 2016

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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