Last Rituals: An Icelandic Novel of Secret Symbols, Medieval Witchcraft, and Modern Murder

Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Author, Bernard Scudder, Translator
Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Author, Bernard Scudder, Translator William Morrow & Company $23.95 (314p) ISBN 978-0-06-114336-6
Reviewed on: 10/01/2007
Release date: 10/01/2007
Similar in plot to Swedish author Helene Tursten's The Glass Devil, this first in a new series from Icelandic author Sigurdardottir offers little readers have not seen before. As with Tursten's novel, the spectre of demon-worship is at the heart of the mystery, after the strangled corpse of Harald Guntlieb is discovered with his eyes gouged out. Guntlieb, a German student, was attending graduate school in Iceland, examining the latter country's history of witch-hunting, an academic pursuit that may have taken on more personal overtones. His grieving parents, who had already suffered the loss of a child, enlist attorney and single mother Thora Gudmundsdottir to objectively assess the police case against a drug addict arrested for the murder. Aided by an attractive ex-German police officer, Gudmundsdottir diligently tracks down the dead man's friends and colleagues, before arriving at the truth. The author gives less of a sense of her native land than other contemporary Scandinavian crime writers like Karin Fossum, and the identity of the killer will surprise few.
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