After reading Lynn’s wonderful thoughts on the new, Viking murder mystery, Kin by Snorri Kristjansson, I knew I needed to read it. So I immediately requested my own copy from Netgalley, but then patiently saved it for the perfect darker, cooler days of autumn to read it.
In the summer of 970, legendary Viking warlord, Unnthor Reginsson has reached the winter of his years, he’s sixty-two, and has long since retired from raiding. Now Unnthor lives quietly at his farm, Riverside, with his wife, Hildigunnur, their adoptive daughter, Helga and his sworn brother Jaki and his son, Einar. Both Unnthor and his wife are well-respected in the valley and surrounding area, but as much as he denies it, rumours and gossip persists of a large treasure horde secretly buried on his land. All of which is to bubble dangerously to the surface when Unnthor arranges a whole family reunion.
Through the eyes of the young, intelligent and insightful Helga, we witness the preparation and arrival of Unnthor and Hildigunnur’s grown children and their families. There are three sons: the dark, dangerous Karl; the giant Bjorn and the gentle, henpecked Aslak, and one daughter: the lithe, clever Jorunn. With the gathering of the siblings, bad blood simmers and old feuds resurface, as they all make their moves on the old man’s treasure. Then one morning Helga is awakened by screams. Blood has been shed… kin has been slain!
I daren’t go any further with the plot in case of spoilers! What I can say is what follows is a fast, gripping and twisting murder mystery, as Helga races against time to solve this terrible crime, before an innocent is blamed and there can be anymore bloodshed. As an adoptive daughter she has a more objective view and open mind than the others, and she has a wisdom that belies her young years. Also she puts all the cunning traits she has learnt from her wise adoptive mother, Hildigunnur, to work her way through this large cast, wheedling out all their resentments and secrets.
What was a very good murder mystery, which could perhaps be transposed to any time period, was taken to a whole new level by the fantastic, historical Viking setting. The picturesque, wooded Norwegian valley, with the Riverside farm and longhouse nestled within, where life is quiet, isolated and closely tied to the seasons. Then the reunion explodes this life apart with the busy, continuous slaughtering of animals, making beds, cooking food, bringing up the best wine and ale, and entertaining guests. We also have the chance to see traditional Norse games, sports and a blood sacrifice to the gods.
Overall I thought Kin was an excellent Viking murder mystery, which shows a different side to the raiding and pillaging Vikings. On finishing this book, I discovered that it is the first in a planned series, so I look forward to reading more of Helga Finnsdottir’s adventures. Great read.
Thank you to Quercus Books for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Have you read this? Or any other Viking books?
This was also my third read for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XIII reading event.