The Absolution

Minotaur: St. Martin’s. (Children’s House, Bk. 3). Feb. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9781250136305. $28.99. THRILLER
In Sigurdardóttir’s third “Children’s House” thriller (after The Reckoning), teenager Stella dies slowly and cruelly, begging for forgiveness. When her murder is shared with all her “friends” on Snapchat, the community is traumatized. Her body is found with the number “2” nearby, which begs the question: Could there be a number one? Pressure ramps up when the murder of a teenage boy, #3, is captured similarly. The only connection is they were both considered bullies. Meanwhile, appealing, rule-breaking Det. Huldar is strongly interested in Freyja, the child psychologist serving as a consultant on this case. Attraction simmers between them, although this thread never fully materializes, which is slightly disappointing. The tension surrounding these crimes, however, is top notch, and among parents, schools, teens, and the police, the race is on to find a well-organized, merciless killer.
VERDICT Sigurdardóttir creates an intense focus upon and thorough examination of bullying, including issues of isolation, suicide, counseling, and inept prevention in this excellent, gritty thriller that will appeal to series fans and readers of Kimberly McCreight’s Reconstructing Amelia. [See Prepub Alert, 7/21/19.]

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