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On a warm night in May 1948, nine-year-old Birgitta Sivander walks into the woods and disappears. Shortly before dawn, she is found dead in a ditch, hidden under a pile of rocks and with wounds to her head. Seventy years later, the historian Linda Segtnan stumbles across a newspaper article about the unsolved murder. Something ineffable about the photo of the dead child urges her to delve deeper into Birgitta’s fate and she turns to the archives to learn more. Parallel to her growing obsession with the case, a life takes root inside her. A girl. How can one bear to bring a child into a world that is so endlessly cruel? How can one bear to face the dangers that threaten a daughter?

Debut author Linda Segtnan writes with passionate compulsion. Weaving seamlessly between her own present and the hunt for Birgitta’s killer in the past, Segtnan explores how children have historically been treated in the eyes of the law and the impulses and fears that define how we treat and raise children today. She lays bare how a small community is affected by the shockwaves of a brutal crime, and what happens to the individuals and to society at large when we cannot trust the justice system. The result is riveting. Through meticulous research, vivid compassion, and some unconventional methods of magic, Segtnan animates the past while bringing us ever closer to a plausible killer. Coursing through the veins of this blood-hot story is also a strong spiritual pulse – what really happens to those we love after we have lost them?

Part a mother’s memoir, part a historical investigation, The Eighth House is a book about every parent’s worst nightmare – a literary exorcism in order to accept life’s unbearable fragility. Linda Segtnan masterfully brings the past to life while inviting the reader into the everyday workings of her own family in the present. The diary-style entries and the historical chronicle lock step to create a breathlessly elegant and suspenseful narrative that explores what it means to give and take life.

Reviews

“Linda Segtnan debuts with The Eighth House, a genre-transcending true crime- story about a murder in the 40’s. But it is the juxtaposition with her own parenthood that is the most enthralling. /…/ Segtnan problematizes her intimate investigation in a very nuanced way. The fact that she is an experienced historical researcher also contributes. /…/ In a way, this book is more about Linda’s strong will to know more about Birgitta’s case and her understanding of how problematic that driving force is. /…/ The great pleasure [in the reading] is the raw portrayal of the fragility of parenthood.”
Barometern (SE)

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