Friday, September 21, 2007

Last Rituals-Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Last Rituals
Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Morrow, Oct 2007, $23.95
ISBN: 9780061143366

In Reykjavik, Iceland, the police arrest a drug dealer for murdering and mutilating German college student Harald Guntlieb. However, the victim’s affluent parents do not believe the police caught the right person; they cannot comprehend why a drug dealer would asphyxiate a victim rather than just shoot him, not carve out their son’s eyes nor carve ritual symbols on his chest. They assume their offspring was killed in a witchcraft homicide.

Still seeking closure, the parents send trusted family friend Matthew Reich, a former CID agent, to Iceland to investigate. He knows even before he leaves the continent that he will require local assistance so through Harold’s grieving mom Amelia, Matthew hires lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottir, a single mother, to assist him on the case as she speaks his language as well as that of the locals. They follow up on the odd LAST RITUALS by looking into Harold’s life in Iceland and learn he belonged to a strange group that participated in unusual sexual rites and had a passionate fascination with medieval witch-hunts. As they dig deeper, they find the case spiraling out of control even as Thora’s family life intrudes.

Thora makes this exciting Icelandic whodunit an entertaining read as she struggles between balancing a complex investigation with the demands of her children especially her teen son. Matthew knows he can go nowhere without her as he does not speak the language besides being a foreigner no one would cooperate with him. Thus her family needs intrude on the case driving Matthew to distraction. The mystery is clever as the audience will find many suspects to choose from even while the police seek to end the case with a second arrest of a student. LAST RITUALS is a terrific investigate thriller.

Harriet Klausner

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