We are continuing our binge reading of Yrsa Sigurdardottir with Someone To Watch Over Me. It is the fifth book in the Thora Gudsmundsdottir [symbols and accents omitted] series. We always note that the author’s Icelandic name means that you might find her as Yrsa or Sigurdardottir. It is a step worth taking in the Thora series.
Of course, you should really read the first four first. It is not absolutely critical because the big relationships are explained but you can understand all the players better by starting at the beginning. There are many characters in Someone and keeping track of all the Icelandic names and nicknames is a challenge. It is like reading The Deerslayer. The names have lots of accents and some non-English characters. In another book a character had a name we couldn’t figure out so we called him a character from Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore. We have three reasons why we like Yrsa and Thora in their fifth outing.
First, Yrsa has an interesting way of piquing your interest in the mystery. We always get part of it before Thora but there is another piece to add. This book has a great example with bla-blaO2. We are yelling at Thora, “It is oxygen you dummy” but it isn’t clear why oxygen is important. The oxygen is important but there is much to do in order to connect it to the mystery.
Second, there are interesting characters. There are even some you like. Most entertainment is about characters you don’t like. Yrsa has some of those from Thora’s secretary Bella to the really evil guy, Josteinn [accent omitted]. One of the characters is Iceland and we learn about the crash.
Third, Someone has a conservative soul that is different from Yrsa’s earlier books and different from almost any piece of entertainment. Thora is not a conservative but the story often is. Iceland has all but eliminated Down syndrome through abortion. Thora’s client, Jakob, has Down syndrome. Thora thinks that she would have aborted him but his mother loves Jakob and he loves her.
The typical story is bad businessmen these days but Someone contains an astonishing number of errors and dirty deeds by the government or government employees. For example, the home for impaired adults that Jokob is charged with burning down is probably a bad idea but it is even more poorly implemented as the fire suppression system is never implemented leading to needless deaths. As the government continues to fail or government employees behave improperly Thora’s extended family faces challenges but often succeeds. It they wanted to make a movie of the book they would make it a bad businessman story.
Yrsa has a good mystery with good characters and atypical heroes and villains. It is a really different from what we see in our culture and that makes it an excellent read. And there might be some supernatural too.