The Absolution is the third installment in Queen of Icelandic crime fiction Yrsa Sigurdardóttir’s series about the psychologist Freyja and the police officer Huldar.
The police find out about the crime the way everyone does: on Snapchat. The video shows a terrified young woman begging for forgiveness. When her body is found, it is marked with a number “2”.
Detective Huldar joins the investigation, bringing child psychologist Freyja on board to help question the murdered teenager's friends. Soon, they uncover that Stella was far from the angel people claim, but who could have hated her enough to kill?
Then another teenager goes missing, more clips are sent to social media, and the body with a “3” is found. Freyja and Huldar can agree on two things at least: the truth is far from simple. The killer is not done yet. And is there an undiscovered body carrying the number “1” out there?
In Sigurdard ttir's stellar third Children's House thriller (after 2019's The Reckoning), Freyja, a frustrated child psychologist, joins forces with Huldar, an problem-ridden Reykjav k police detective, to try to catch a serial killer. The killer posts horrific images on Snapchat to announce the torture-slaughter of adolescent cyberbullies. The fraught relationship between Freyja and Huldar adds emotional depth; since a passionate but ill-fated one-night stand in 2018's The Legacy, Freyja has realized Huldar is the wrong man in the right body for her. The less conflicted Huldar remains attracted to her. Meanwhile, Freyja must gingerly tiptoe around Huldar's boss, Erla, who was once investigated for sexually harassing him. Sigurdard ttir indicts an education system that consistently lets its students down, parents who foster dysfunctional family life, and medical personnel who selfishly hide vital secrets. She also unflinchingly reveals the excruciating pain felt by bullies' victims. This heart-wrenching story deserves a wide audience.
The subject matter and gruesome murders were almost too excruciating to read. Instead of revenge for despicable acts of bullying and cruelty, more focus on the underlying mental and emotional illnesses would have been hopeful at least. The social media hate and harassment must be stopped, and those being bullied must get the help and support needed! This global crisis must be addressed by mental health professionals, school authorities, workplace managers, clergy, and law enforcement all over the world. Bullies must be stopped and held accountable for their behaviors that inflict intense pain on their targets. I found myself thinking about the characters in this book long after I’d finished reading it. This book certainly raises awareness of the global crisis - no country is immune from the bullying and cyber harassment cruel and twisted people inflict on others. I am reluctant to be alone in a movie theater restroom after reading this book!