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Pub Date 08 Mar 2018 | Archive Date 09 Mar 2018
Quercus Books, Jo Fletcher Books

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'For Vikings done right, come to Snorri Kristjansson' - Mark Lawrence

'Truly entertaining' - Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

'A dark mystery in a dark age brought vividly to life' - Robert Fabbri

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 . . .

'For Vikings done right, come to Snorri Kristjansson' - Mark Lawrence

'Truly entertaining' - Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

'A dark mystery in a dark age brought vividly to life' - Robert Fabbri

Everyone loves a...

Advance Praise

A dark mystery in a dark age brought vividly to life. For lovers of the Vikings TV series and Lindsey Davies alike. I look forward to more of Helga Finnsdottir.’ - Robert Fabbri, author of the bestselling Vespasian series

‘Truly entertaining: a new and original Nordic Noir voice’ - Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, author of the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series

‘An exciting new voice. With his Viking mystery, Snorri has created a new and interesting sub-genre of Icelandic noir’ - Ragnar Jonasson, author of the Dark Iceland series

‘For Vikings done right, come to Snorri Kristjansson’ - Mark Lawrence, bestselling author of Red Sister

‘Praise Odin, it's a terrific mystery! With Viking family values and a sharp-witted heroine, Snorri Kristjansson delivers a first-rate chronicle of intrigue and murder’ - Stephen Gallagher, bestselling author of Red, Red Robin

A dark mystery in a dark age brought vividly to life. For lovers of the Vikings TV series and Lindsey Davies alike. I look forward to more of Helga Finnsdottir.’ - Robert Fabbri, author of the...

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ISBN 9781786489937
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Featured Reviews

I love a good mystery. I also love all things Viking. So I was excited to read the synopsis of this book which combined the two. Snorri does a really good job at transporting you in to the world of this Viking family. It was good to have a tale about these people that detailed their daily life, their family dynamics, their place in their little bit of the world as well as their gods. There were no Viking battles which is quite different for a Viking story but it was welcomed. It made it different to everything else out there on the market. In this story a family are reunited after many years apart and a murder occurs. Signs point to a particular person being to blame but Helga isn't convinced and uses her mother's lessons at reading people to work out what happened. I love the mystery element to the story. All the characters were interesting and I either warmed to them or hated them as the author intended. There was some humour throughout and I found myself swept up in the story. I read it really quite quickly. This is the first book I have read by Snorri Kristjansson and I enjoyed it very much. I have one of his other Viking stories so I look forward to reading more of his writing.

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Kin, from Snorri Kristjansson is a story of family, and what ties them together. Old grudges and old wounds, for certain, and if they’re bound by blood, that blood can also be spilled. It’s a detective story set in the era of Viking raiders, one where a glowering sky enfolds a group as much in bloody thrall to their pasts as enraptured by family affection. If the combination of Vikings, mystery and murder sound good, then this is the book for you. This is a starker world, one where a household is one of the core units, where what can be farmed is the limit of one’s landholding. Kristjansson evokes the atmosphere of the period with remarkable skill. The crystal blue skies, the sense of isolation, the mixture of self-reliance and reliance on the settlement group. The farmland sits in a wider landscape with a stark beauty, giving a unique blend of humanity and wilderness at a time when that demarcation wasn’t yet fully realised. There’s a wonderful liminality to the setting as well; the Gods of the Norse have a presence here which is almost physical, their existence felt and accepted, if never entirely seen. The role of religion, of faith, is expored somewhat here as well – as a driver for peoples motivations, as a means of social control, and in its own purity and simplicity. Whether or not the Gods are real, this is a world which accepts that they are, and that acceptance permeates the thoughts and actions of the characters. And what characters they are. Our focus is Helga Finnsdottir, the incisive ward of the Reginsson family. Helga is clever, certainly, but also capable of being smoothly charming and acting quickly. She carries some insecurities around her own position in the family, and those facets of self doubt are ones the text doesn’t shy away from. But she’s a solid investigator, one with an interest in the truth, even as she starts digging into family secrets. If Helga isn’t all sweetness and light, she’s certainly forceful enough to carry the reader along with her, and her own weaknesses are ones it’s easy to empathise with. One of the strands explored in the text is that of agency – as women, Helga and her female relatives could have been seen as marginalised, but here they’re a very active part of the family; while Helga carries some of the aura of an outsider, not tied to the family by bonds of blood, her adopted mother is a force of nature, one always able to achieve her goals through putting the right word in the right ear, through shared history or careful construction of narrative. That soft power is backed up by Reginsson, an ex-raider, now aging but still powerful in his own raw physicality. The Reginsson partnership is one of the highlights of the text – a match which clearly has decades of affection behind it, alongside a clarity born of experience, and a ruthlessness likewise. But there’s a swarm of other characters here as well, as the Reginsson family comes together. The raiding son, with an eye for wine and another for women. The second son, a tower of a man with old wounds from his brother. The third son, a farmer, who may be carrying his own demons. The daughter, a vicious fighter with schemes of her own (and a husband from as far away as Sweden!). The Reginsson children are a complex bunch of marauders, and there’s always a sense - in the dialogue, in the way they pass each other mead, in who goes to do chores with whom - that they have their own agendas at play. Once the initial barrage of names is over, they swiftly grow their own personalities, sympathetic and otherwise, stepping out of our cultural preconceptions of the period to become living, breathing, scheming, stabbing, screaming, plotting, charming, friendly, murderous people. To be honest, I would have been happy with Kin if it had just been a memoir of the Norse. The family dynamics, the close knit, often tense, occasionally poisonous relationships wrapped inside bonds of blood and affection make this an absolutely cracking family drama. But it’s a murder mystery too. For the sake of spoilers, I won’t say any more – but the mystery is carefully constructed and plausible, and the resolution reasonable, with a solid emotional payoff. It’s the relationships between characters which make the stakes, and make the situation feel real – and they’re top-notch. Somewhere in the dizzying spirals of ties between families is a killer, but quite who it is – in a world where violence floats close to the surface – is another question. Anyway, Kin. Do you want to read it? The pagan Norse period may not be for everyone, but here it’s given surpassing depth and integrity. The characters are complex and believable, and the central mystery one which rewards careful reading – and working it out alongside Helga was great fun. If you’re in a Scandi-noir mood, and willing to leap back through the centuries, then this is a book which will reward a reading; I, for one, look forward to the further adventures of Helga Finnsdottir.

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A departure for Snorri Kristjansson here. Well, not that much of a departure - this is still very much about Vikings, but it has quite a different feel from the Swords Of Good Men books. There are no epic voyages (in fact, the whole thing takes place on one farmstead), and no magic or Norse Gods (weeeeeelll, almost no Norse Gods...). The main attraction for me was the evocation of domestic life in Viking times, which was convincing and interesting, with the push and pull of honour and hearth. At heart though this is a crime novel, a murder mystery where family tensions spill over into bloodshed. It's every Christmas Day dinner argument you've ever had turned up to eleven. With knives. A good read, and with a second book already promised, this could be a series to look out for,

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