- Kin (The Helga Finnsdottir Mysteris #1).
- Snorri Kristjansson.
- 320 pages.
- Viking / Historical Fiction / Crime / Mystery / Thriller / Fiction.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
Everyone loves a family reunion.
He can deny it all he likes, but everyone knows Viking warlord Unnthor Reginsson brought home a great chest of gold when he retired from the longboats and settled down with Hildigunnur in a remote valley. Now, in the summer of 970, adopted daughter Helga is awaiting the arrival of her unknown siblings: dark, dangerous Karl, lithe, clever Jorunn, gentle Aslak, henpecked by his shrewish wife, and the giant Bjorn, made bitter by Volund, his idiot son.
And they’re coming with darkness in their hearts.
The siblings gather, bad blood simmers and old feuds resurface as Unnthor’s heirs make their moves on the old man’s treasure – until one morning Helga is awakened by screams. Blood has been shed: kin has been slain.
No one confesses, but all the clues point to one person – who cannot possibly be the murderer, at least in Helga’s eyes. But if she’s going to save the innocent from the axe and prevent more bloodshed, she’s got to solve the mystery – fast . . .
Lies. Manipulation. Murder. There’s nothing quite like family . . .
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher through bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.
Kin is a vime (Viking crime, not sure it’ll catch on but that’s what I’m going with) book set within the confines of Riverside and is a very self-contained story focusing on Unnthor Reginsson and his rather dysfunctional family.
Taking place in Norway, in the year, 970. Unnthor Reginsson has reached the winter of his years, he’s sixty-two, long since put down the axe and retired from raiding. Riverside is his home and has been for many years, the Reginsson’s have seen their own children grow up and move on. Now, along with his wife, Hildigunnar, their adopted daughter, Helga and Unnthor’s sworn brother Jaki and his son, Eider, workers on the farm are the only ones left at Riverside.
Unnthor’s name has stood the test of time and both he and his wife are well-respected in the valley and surrounding area. It’s been many years since all of the Reginsson family were together and Unnthor and Hildigunnar have arranged a gathering at Riverside which will see a family reunion take place and the return of their four children and their families/partners.
While I’m not one for detailed story analysis in my reviews at the best of times. For Kin, I truly feel that the blurb gives a well-rounded overview of the story contained within the pages without going into any overt detail and as such, anything I write would just be me treading water and repeating the blurb.
Kin is a very character-driven read and at slightly over 300 pages it’s a short book in which Kristjansson manages to fill the pages with a stellar cast of characters and plenty of mystery.
It takes until about halfway through Kin before the murder takes place at Riverside. The first half of the book is quite sedately paced and is taken up with Unnthor’s children and their respective families/partners all returning to Riverside. This works really well and it suits the story allowing the drama time to unfold as the tension between the characters starts to simmer and grow as the siblings become reacquainted, each family arrives and Riverside becomes full of the hustle and bustle of the Viking way of life. It also gives you the chance to meet all the players in the mystery and become better acquainted with each individual character.
When the murder is finally committed the pacing starts to pick-up and the atmosphere at Riverside becomes oppressive and fraught as the familial ties that bind become frayed, suspicion builds, old resentments surface, secrets are revealed and the mystery deepens.
I found each of the characters in Kin to be different with their own distinct and flawed personality. All those in the Reginsson family add to the story and feel like they have a place in the book and the story that is being told. Out of the cast, Kristjansson does a good job of making all of his characters seem like plausible suspects in committing the crime and with some twists and turns you are kept guessing as to what the outcome will be.
My favourite character has to be Hildigunnar, Unnthor’s wife, he may well be the fearsome, old Viking warlord but he’s definitely not the one who wears the breaches in the Reginnson longhouse! Hildigunnar is a joy to behold and read about, diminutive in comparison to her hulking husband, she is observant and watchful with a keen eye for reading people, a sharp wit and commanding aurora that make her formidable. She also has a love for rather risqué jokes and can simultaneously make both her family and you, the reader laugh at some of the things she comes out with. She can be one dirty old woman!😂
Helga, as the main character is also a pleasure to read about. She’s strong, insightful, clever and has a wisdom that belies her young years picking up and sharing many of the same traits that Hildigunnar has taught her. As I mentioned earlier, Helga is adopted, she has a love and respect for her adoptive parents but this family gathering will be the first time that she has seen her adopted brothers and sister. As such, when the murder is committed she has a more objective view and open mind than the others which aids in the investigation as her judgment isn’t clouded by being a blood relation to either the killed or the accused.
The story told by Kristjansson in Kin isn’t an epic tale of Viking pillaging and raiding and is very much a departure from what you would perceive to be the norm when it comes to tales involving Vikings. Different, however, can be refreshing and in the case of Kin, it most certainly is with Kristjansson creating a new style read that is gripping, enjoyable and easily accessible and I, for one, look forward to continuing Helga’s adventures.
In my opinion, Kin will appeal to fans of crime, thrillers, mystery and historical fiction and is well worth a read.
Were you paying attention at the start of the review where I labelled Kin as vime?!? You were! Good! Well, Kin is sublime vime!
Purchase Kin (The Helga Finnsdottir Mysteries #1).
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