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Someone to Watch Over Me: Thora Gudmundsdottir    by Yrsa Sigurdardottir order for
Someone to Watch Over Me
by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2016 (2015)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Someone to Watch Over Me (translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton) is the fifth (following The Day is Dark) in Yrsa Sigurdardottir's unusual Icelandic mystery series starring Reykjavík attorney Thóra Gudmundsdóttir.

Thóra is the divorced mother of young Sóley and older teen Gylfi. They live with her along with Gylfi's girlfriend Sigga and their infant son Orri. So does Thóra's partner, German banker Matthew Reich. Their living arrangements get even more crowded after Thóra's parents (suffering financial difficulties) move in as well. And Matthew has time on his hands, having lost his banking job due to the country's financial collapse.

As the novel opens, Thóra is approached by an unusual client, a serial killer in a secure psychiatric unit. He wants to hire her to clear the name of a fellow inmate, Jakob, a young man with Down's Syndrome who was accused and convicted (partly due to very poor legal representation) of burning down his group home eighteen months before. Soon after looking into the case, Thóra becomes convinced of Jakob's innocence and takes it on, despite her distaste for the man paying the bills.

Another subplot concerns an apparent haunting after the hit-and-run-death of a family's babysitter. Her ghost seems to be haunting their home, continuing to look out for their little son. This proves increasingly stressful to the young mother of the household who is at home all day experiencing these frightening occurrences. Most of her friends and acquaintances don't believe her though.

Thóra looks into both the residents of the group home and its staff. She's very disturbed to learn that a paralyzed coma patient was pregnant when she died - who could have raped such a helpless young woman? Jakob witnessed the setting of the fire but it's very hard to get answers of any kind from him. Then Thóra starts to receive messages about the case - who could be sending them? And why is someone destroying drawings of the autistic young man who died in the fire?

It's a complicated puzzle but Thóra works her way through it step by step, dealing with her family worries at the same time. Matthew helps where he can. And when it's all over, the ghost relocates. I enjoy this series because its author digs into unusual, and very different, topics in each episode. Well worth reading.

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