Friday, December 12, 2008

Insane in Iceland

Last Rituals - Yrsa Sigurdarsdottir

In “Last Rituals” a German student is found murdered in Reykjavik University. More than murdered actually, because someone has seen it fit to remove his eyes. Harold Guntlieb had a life-long fixation with witchcraft a subject dear to his grandfather who, in the confused times that ensued the II World War, was able to procure numerous artifacts and documents related to the German Inquisition.

Tracing the origins of the infamous “witch-hunting manual”, XVII century Malleus Malleficarum, has somehow led him to Iceland, the only European country, where men, rather than women were persecuted as witches.

Since the Guntlieb family has difficulty believing such an horrific crime was committed by a drinking / drugging buddy of Harold, they decide to send their private security/ trouble-shooter to the Island (yes, they are filthy rich). Matthew Reich daunted by the obvious problem of navigating a foreign police and law system not to mention the language issue, hires Thóra Gudmunsdottir, a lawyer and divorced mother of two as a guide and aide.

The verdict? Hmmm, it’s a nice book, very readable; the historic subplot was very well thought out, the investigation in itself quite interesting. I really liked Thóra’s character very much. What I didn’t like were many of the chapters spent following Harold’s University friends – they were very silly, very blair-witchery 2…boring!

So let me put it this way, when a new Sigurdardottir book comes out – if it features Thóra I will definitely get it. If not, I’ll still consider it.

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