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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars absorbing and atmospheric
This novel begins dramatically, with the description of the final thoughts to go through the mind of a handsome and charismatic young preacher, Victor Strandgard, from Kiruna in the far north of Sweden. We then move to Stockholm, where we meet the novel's central character, Rebecka Martinsson, a driven and rather guarded young Stockholm lawyer. She is called back to...
Published on 6 Mar 2011 by Sarah A. Brown

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tighter and less rambling that some other Nordic crime writers
A mutilated body is found in a church in northern Sweden - and a lawyer is brought back to the place she once lived and her past amongst the leaders of the church.

This is a competent enough read with a tighter plotline than those of writers like Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo. However many of the elements have been done repeatedly in other crime novels making...
Published on 11 Dec 2010 by Roman Clodia


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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unrelenting anger, 17 Aug 2012
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This review is from: The Savage Altar (Rebecka Martinsson 1) (Paperback)
I ordered this title to further read up on Swedish crime writers. The book, translated into English, reads very well, very clearly. It has the same precise wording style as the other Swedish books I've read. Very nice presentation of domestic details, how the home is set up, living daily with so much snow and cold. Other titles tended to center on the landscapes rather than these details. However, I didn't like or sympathize with the heroine. She was from the beginning irritated, angry and it took a while to realize that was just her way of being. Her way of pushing into a scene and demanding her way was very irritating to me. The plot, very complex and at the end not too believable.
Basically, I was disappointed by this title, although it wasn't bad, just not up to expectations.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 11 July 2014
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This review is from: The Savage Altar (Kindle Edition)
good book
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 5 July 2014
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Miss S. J. Draper "SuzieD" (Gosport) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Savage Altar (Rebecka Martinsson 1) (Paperback)
Really enjoyed this book and the others in the series. Def recommend others give them a go.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars, 2 July 2014
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Very slow getting to the plot, just starting to get interesting after reading more than 80%
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5.0 out of 5 stars Decent thriller, 21 May 2014
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Excellent read. Addictive key characters and good descriptive writing. Although some of the villains were a bit unbelievable. I'm reading her other books and thoroughly enjoying them.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad but nothing like Stig Larsson's style, 21 May 2014
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This review is from: The Savage Altar (Rebecka Martinsson 1) (Paperback)
I did get to the end but only mildly enjoyed the plot. Too much rambling on the religious theme. Will not buy other books from her!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A real thriller, 15 April 2014
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This is the first book by this author I have read and will look for other books by Asa Larsson.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Savage Alter a crime thriller worth reading, 4 April 2014
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This is the first book I've read by this Author and can't wait to begin the next. Anyone who enjoys crime stories would love this book, the plot kept it's secret to the end.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Did not altar my score, 8 Feb 2014
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Another newish Scandanavian author who extols the beauty and savage Swedish character and country side, good reading and an exciting conclusion with interesting characters throughout
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to a new Swedish sleuth, 2 Jan 2014
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Dr R (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Savage Altar (Rebecka Martinsson 1) (Paperback)
One day I shall open a Nordic crime novel and find that the investigation centres on two pensioners smothered in their beds. Until then authors appear to be competing with one another to describe the most bloodily dismembered body lying at the crime scene. Here we read that, `one hand is lying three metres away under the chairs. But where's the other?'

In this book, published in 2007 in an English translation by Marlaine Delargy, Asa Larsson, an ex-tax lawyer who grew up in the northern Swedish town of Kiruna, introduces Rebecka Martinsson, a young corporate lawyer who is under pressure in her job, was raised in Kiruna, but was forced to leave in disgrace. The character's name is an act of homage to Martin Beck, the central character of the 1965-75 Swedish detective series by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.

A young man, Viktor Strandgård, is murdered in a Kiruna church (the opening of the novel finds him on the point of death watching the Aurora Borealis blazing overhead) and is found by his sister, Sanna, a rather feckless mother of two. Before long she becomes the main suspect and contacts her former flat-mate and friend, Rebecka, to help her. Rather reluctantly, Rebecka returns to Kiruna where she is met with some hostility, especially after the police charge Sanna with the murder.

The death receives national news coverage because the victim had previously `died' after a car accident, been resuscitated and had subsequently written a bestseller about his experience, and because of the church in which he was found, one that `soared up into the night sky, surrounded by stars and planets. It stood like a gigantic illuminated ice cube, shimmering with the Aurora Borealis' and is led by the charismatic Thomas Söderberg, whom Rebecka knows only too well.

The story takes place in the frozen north of Sweden, which is described very well. The plotting is straightforward with none of the shattering revelations that one sometimes gets. The story unfolds to reveal a great many secrets that, although they defy the activities of invading newspaper and TV reporters are revealed by Rebecka, working closely with the sympathetic local police.

The characterisation throughout is excellent, Inspector Anna-Maria Mella is much involved despite being confined to desk duties and seemingly on the point of having a baby throughout the story, Sven-Erik Stålnacke, her deputy, who lacks the inner belief to take charge of the investigation, a nice differentiating touch, and their odious, publicity-seeking boss, Carl von Post. The support that the senior police officers give to Sanna and Rebecka is a thread running through the novel.

There are also the three un-Christian pastors of the church and their wives, Sanna's parents, he smug and she too fearful to end her life, and Måns, Rebecka's boss at Meijer & Ditzinger, whom she despises but who, one suspects, migh have another, more positive side. The older generation is represented by Rebecka's old neighbour, Sivving Fjallborg, and by her memories of her dead grandmother. This allows the author to compare the today's rat-race of individualism with an earlier, mutually-supportive lifestyle.

Rebecka must try to support Sanna, look after her two children and investigate the killings and the secrets behind the church's success, and these and other pressures on her are gradually built up by the author.

This is an excellent debut, it is sometimes difficult to believe it was a first book, and the author and translator are both to be congratulated. I will even forgive the anonymous note that Rebecka receives that ends `YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!', obviously sent by a villain who appreciates the additional emphasis that an exclamation mark brings.

This book is extremely confident and assured, contrasts are made between the present and past, city and rural communities, and religious and hypocritical churchgoers. At its centre, Rebecka is a very human character, angry at herself and others, regretful that she had not established a better relationship with her grandmother but tenacious and self-confident. As the revelations about what caused her to leave Kiruna are revealed we see her in a new light.

Her interaction with the police in Kiruna were very believable but it will be interesting to see how Rebecka will manage if confronted with police forces, prosecutors and criminality from further afield.

Sadly, a domestic animal was badly mistreated in the writing of this novel.
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The Savage Altar (Rebecka Martinsson 1)
The Savage Altar (Rebecka Martinsson 1) by Asa Larsson (Paperback - 15 Sep 2011)
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