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Last Rituals [Paperback]

Yrsa Sigurdardottir , Bernard Scudder
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

8 Jan 2009

A young man is found brutally murdered, his eyes gouged out. A student of Icelandic history in Reykjavik, he came from a wealthy German family who do not share the police's belief that his drug dealer murdered him. Attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir is commissioned by his family to find out the truth, with the help - and hindrance - of boorish ex-policeman Matthew Reich. Their investigations into his research take them deep into a grisly world of torture and witchcraft both past and present, as they draw ever closer to a killer gripped by a dangerous obsession...

'Exhilarating... matches Tess Gerritsen and Kathy Reichs in the bloodchiller stakes.' - Waterstone's Books Quarterly

'Given the dark subject matter, this is a surprisingly funny book... a quirky and interesting read.'-Guardian

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; 1st Edition edition (8 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340920637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340920633
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Given the dark subject matter, this is a surprisingly funny book... a quirky and interesting read. (Guardian)

..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)

a unique talent in the field... an exhilarating experience... [She] matches Tess Gerritsen and Kathy Reichs in the bloodchiller stakes. (Waterstone's Books Quarterly)

very good... This is entertaining, well-plotted and cleverly combines the historical and macabre with Thora's life. (Marcel Berlins, The Times)

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

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. (Daily Telegraph)

Suspenseful, compelling and unique. (Kirkus Reviews)

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)

Book Description

A grisly, chilling Icelandic thriller from a fantastic new voice in crime fiction

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Last Rituals 20 Jan 2010
By Tom
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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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent new voice in Icelandic crime ! 19 Jan 2009
By Ann Fairweather TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
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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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating 28 Jan 2008
By Simon Clarke TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A really good read 28 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Finding this new author has been a big surprise. During a holiday in Iceland, I was looking for something Iceland-based to read, and bought this on a whim. It turned out be an enjoyable read, I liked the main characters and even more the plot. The reason why I'm not giving 5 stars is that in some parts I struggled to understand and link all the details, as often there are long historical description not alway functional to the plot. I'm already reading the second book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Last Rituals 10 Jun 2013
By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Had potential, didn't live up to it 4 Jan 2012
Unlike for other reviewers, the book kept my interest to the end, and I really wanted the ending to redeem some of the flippancy that annoyed me about the book, but I was, like other reviewers, disappointed all in all. I was a bit unsure when I noticed the review on the back of the book mentioning that it was 'funny'. I wasn't sure about a 'funny' murder mystery, but gave it a shot. But to me the 'funny' seemed out of place and not exactly hilarious funny, which might have released tension but in this case just added to the awkwardness. It felt a bit forced and unconvincing. The characters were all pretty unlikable, I thought. Basically I felt a lot more could have been done with the witchcraft angle to have really upped the creepiness factor, but in the end it fell flat and just came across as a bit cheesy. Certain side stories were not very neatly explained in the end, but by then I didn't really care.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Dark Icelandic thriller
Yrsa Sigurdardottir is one of the few Icelandic writers whose work has been translated into English and this is her first adult book, having previously established a reputation as... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Brian R. Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars gripping
twists and turns. A bit of a weak ending, but enjoyable all the same. Makes me want to read more from the same author.
Published 1 month ago by Miss Katherine Bird
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent!
Original plot and a page-turner. I am hoping to read more of this lady's books. Very evocative of Icelandic landscape.
Published 2 months ago by Dr E A Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Very refreshing
I love Nordic crime fiction and had only read Indridason from Iceland to date so thought I'd give this one a go. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Justine Carroll
4.0 out of 5 stars Icelandic Puzzle
An intriguing story that held my interest until the end. Some of the characters were less believable than others but I would read other books by this author. I would recommend it.
Published 2 months ago by Felicity
4.0 out of 5 stars Really good read
Enjoyed this book, I have read one by thus author before and this one turned out to be the same character. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Matthew Barry
3.0 out of 5 stars characters didn't seem real.
I have read several Icelandic mystery/crime novels but I found this one very middle of the road. It was difficult, for me, to have any belief in the behaviour and character of the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by PSR
5.0 out of 5 stars must read
Well written book - my first opinion was that I could see where the story was going - I was so wrong
Published 4 months ago by Veerz
5.0 out of 5 stars Icelandic Thrillers
I have just read the first three of Yrsa Sigudardottir's novels and they are all brilliant. You really feel the characters and the Icelandic way of life. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Last Rituals
Excellent, fast moving book, very near the end before the killer becomes clear. Very interesting background on Iceland, with much local colour.
Published 5 months ago by Raymel
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