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Last Rituals: Thora Gudmundsdottir Book 1 (Thóra Gudmundsdóttir crime series) Kindle Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews

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Length: 436 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

I can see why so many people are enthusiastic about Yrsa's work. It's very engaging, fresh and exciting. (James Patterson)

A grisly chiller set in the depths of winter ... Her mystery is absorbing and, untypically, instead of the usual gloomy middle-aged man, her sleuth is a young woman ... It's an accomplished debut, with credible characters and a personable heroine. (Sunday Telegraph)

Dark, deep and icy as an Icelandic fjord; this is a rich and rewarding debut novel of ancient mysteries and very modern murder. (Mark Billingham)

An intricately plotted tale that keeps the reader guessing whodunit, or indeed whether it was murder at all, right until the very end. (Sunday Express)

Review

'Dark, deep and icy as an Icelandic fjord; this is a rich and rewarding debut novel of ancient mysteries and very modern murder.' -- Mark Billingham 20071207 'Given the dark subject matter, this is a surprisingly funny book... a quirky and interesting read.' -- Guardian 20071222 'Considering its population is only around 300,000, Iceland seems to have more than its fair share of good crime writers. Yrsa Sigurdardottir keeps up the standard with LAST RITUALS, a grisly chiller set in the depths of winter... Her mystery is absorbing and, untypically, instead of the usual gloomy middle-aged man, her sleuth is a young woman... It's an accomplished debut, with credible characters and a personable heroine.' -- Sunday Telegraph 20080106 'LAST RITUALS shows that Yrsa Sigurdardottir has arrived, fully formed, it seems, as something of a unique talent in the field... What makes Sigurdardottir's crime debut such an exhilarating experience is the way in which she takes familiar ingredients. but throws off a series of innovative riffs on these concepts... [She] matches Tess Gerritsen and Kathy Reichs in the bloodchiller stakes. But like all Scandinavian writers, it's her acute sense of place that gives such character to her work, and readers may feel a keen desire to visit Reykjavik after reading LAST RITUALS.' -- Waterstone's Books Quarterly 20080129 'You will now have to remember two very good Icelandic crime writers. Arnaldur Indridason, who made his mark with his Inspector Erlendur a few years ago, is now joined by Yrsa Sigurdardottir... This is entertaining, well-plotted and cleverly combines the historical and macabre with Thora's life.' -- Marcel Berlins, The Times 20080120 'Fans of peculiar and grisly crime novels will find much in LAST RITUALS to titillate them.' -- Observer 20080210 'an intricately plotted tale that keeps the reader guessing whodunit, or indeed whether it was murder at all, right until the very end. Following in the footsteps of bestselling crime writer and Icelandic compatriot Arnaldur Indridason, it is clear that while Reykjavik may indeed be cool, it is also murder central as far as the imagination of some of its citizens is concerned.' -- Sunday Express 20080225 'After its grisly opening, LAST RITUALS turns out to be a surprisingly light and playful novel, with a jaunty translation by the late Bernard Scudder. Lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottir is an engaging detective, and the black magic and hocus-pocus of the main plot prove to be of less interest than Thora's more earthly concerns, such as coping with her truculent teenage son and embarking on an unsuitable romance.' -- Daily Telegraph 20080120 'A debut jammed with suspense.' -- Woman and Home 20080101 'Enjoyable. a good read. the story is informative and interesting, and makes an encouraging start to a promised series.' -- Literary Review 20071201 'Suspenseful, compelling and unique.' -- Kirkus Reviews 20070801

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 984 KB
  • Print Length: 436 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0340920637
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (29 Oct. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003LPV136
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I felt compelled to write a review of this book and drag it out of three and a half star ignominy. I read a number of novels in 2009 and this stood out as one of the most enjoyable; notably, over and above Stieg Larsson's much lauded Swedish crime `caper' The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Undoubtedly Last Rituals is linear in plot structure (although reasonable portions are told from viewpoints other than the heroines) and a low body count may not satisfy every reader. What the book does accomplish well however is a tight, closed, murder mystery, that avoids the `global crisis' pitfall that too many crime books fall into: you know, where one murder turns out to be international terrorism or the end of the world! The characters are somewhat formulaic (headstrong female meets surly, but thaw-able, detective with mysterious client) but likable and with more than hints of realism; conveyed notably via the protagonist frustrated dealings with her kids and secretary. I don't know whether it's appropriate to say but I do think this is probably more of a female book: strong woman with issues, thrown in at the deep end, will-they-won't-they chemistry etc...Whilst the technical nature of the book is nowhere near that of Kathy Reich's it does take many of her character's traits and interactions, adjusting them well to the Icelandic setting (for a measure of the interaction think Brennan and Booth from Bones).

A spattering of humour adds to the enjoyment of the book, but there weren't any moments where I cringed, either as a result of the humour or the plot. In terms of the plot it is at times dark but never inaccessible, there are diverse and varied twists that come fast enough to create a compelling narrative.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book with great delight. It's well-plotted with lots of research in medieval witch-hunt that gives the story depths and an interesting angle. The characters comes alive with originality and the central lawyer-turned-detective is a divorced single mother of two that retained an unfaillible sense of humour thorough the whole grim inquest. Given its macabre character, this dead-pan humour comes as a welcome surprise. Her grounded no-nonsense approach reminded me at times of Inspector Irene Huss in the Helene Tursten books.
The novel has hints of an Icelandic 'Secret History' gone into withcraft.
I certainly will read her next one !
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On the basis of this captivating novel,Iceland has produced
another great crime novelist to rival the award-winning Arnaldur
Indridason. A wealthy German student of withcraft and sorcery is
brutally murdered in Reykjavik.His parents consider that the police
have arrested the wrong culprit and hire a female Icelandic lawyer
and German security man to investigate.Their meticulous enquiries
take them deep into the history of sorcery,whilst their own relationship grows.The effects of the dead man's dark interests on his friends is chillingly conveyed.This is an intelligent enthralling read,not without moments of humour.
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By Keen Reader TOP 50 REVIEWER on 10 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback
Having started the series of books by Sigurdardottir somewhere in the middle instead of at the beginning, I'm now backtracking and catching up. These books, so far have been absolutely brilliant - totally enthralling.

I was intrigued to find that this book has references to the `Malleus Maleficarum', having studied this as part of a paper on Medieval Culture that I took a couple of years ago. So this, and the work of Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger was familiar to me. A most interesting and highly disturbing episode in medieval history, along with the witch hunts in the Tyrol region.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book; the mix of history, mystery, murder, ambition and greed was great. I love mysteries wound around historical facts, and the story following the witchtrials and the bishoprics on Iceland was particularly fascinating. I really liked the characters too; Thora is someone I suspect I would really like, and Matthew, the children, and even Bella the horrible secretary are all portrayed in a witty and entertaining way. Absolutely topnotch story; I'm really glad I found this author and look forward to reading more of her works.
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By AR VINE VOICE on 1 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
When a German student is found murdered in the University of Iceland, his eyes gouged out and strange symbols carved on his body, the police are quick to apprehend a suspect. But the student's wealthy family refuse to believe in the suspect's guilt, and hire local lawyer Thora to assist their ex-police investigator Matthew Reich as he searches for the truth. Their search leads them into a sinister world where witchcraft and torture have become an obsession.

This is a good solid crime novel with a dark and interesting premise, which could perhaps have been more involving. I've always been interested in Iceland, and am a fan of the Arnaldur Indridason novels, which is why I chose to read this book. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't describe it as a page turner. The central character, Thora, is not your average protagonist for Scandinavian crime fiction. She's a personable thirty-something divorcee with two kids, who enjoys her job and loves her family. She adds a light-hearted element to the dark underworld of witchcraft and medieval torture that forms the subject of the story. It's obvious a lot of historical research has gone into this book, and I found the historical stories of witch hunts to be interesting. There is only one murder, which takes place at the beginning of the story and the rest of the novel is devoted to a private investigation of the case. The romance between Thora and Matthew is humorous and they spark well off each other. Thora's family drama adds a bit of depth, although it is not directly related to the plot.

Not a book that will blow you away, but still well worth reading. I would certainly read another novel by this author.
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