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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful Scandinavian chiller. Scary on a human scale
Scandinavian crime fiction has really taken off in recent years and it's wonderful that books like Savage Altar (previously published as Sun Storm) are being translated and brought to a world-wide audience. The genre as a whole specialises in claustrophobic, small-scale mysteries, often made all the more chilling because they involve relatively few people in isolated...
Published on 4 July 2008 by Rowena Hoseason

versus
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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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful Scandinavian chiller. Scary on a human scale, 4 July 2008
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Savage Altar (Paperback)
Scandinavian crime fiction has really taken off in recent years and it's wonderful that books like Savage Altar (previously published as Sun Storm) are being translated and brought to a world-wide audience. The genre as a whole specialises in claustrophobic, small-scale mysteries, often made all the more chilling because they involve relatively few people in isolated areas where either the sun don't shine or - possibly worse - the days never dim...

Savage Altar introduces Rebecka Martinsson, a young city lawyer who is dragged back to confront the ghosts of her emotional past in her rural home town when an ex-boyfriend (of sorts) is brutally murdered. Rebecka is a fragile achiever; clever but compelled to work far too hard to make up for her insecurity. She over-reacts to a friendly approach from her boss with spiky ferocity, and many of her relationships feature awkward conversations and painful silences, where old arguments and grudges confuse the protagonists.
We also meet an interesting detective, who happens to be eight months pregnant and desperately trying to go on maternity leave; Rebecka's spiritual grandfather (who is called Sivving - and there's a great joke attached to that name), the murdered man's sister (who is both not what she seems and exactly what she seems), a sinister evangelical church and its collection of overenthusiastic pastors, plus the usual pushy bureaucrat who wants the whole murder case wrapped up in no time flat.
Where Savage Altar stands head and shoulders above run of the mill thrillers is in the very human scale of the mystery and the past events which have interwoven to culminate in the death of one young man - and a very real threat to his sister (who looks like the prime suspect) and to Rebecka. Savage Altar is littered with beautifully observed interactions; often the most touching are between humans and animals where affection can be more easily expressed than with other real live people...

Savage Altar is easy to read, well plotted and beautifully described. I romped through it in a couple of days, eager to find out whodunnit (and why), but also eager to spend time with the protagonists in a starkly beautiful, dangerous landscape. If your tastes run to American-style serial-killer or police procedural thrillers then Savage Altar may not be to your taste, however; much of the menace is implied rather than related, blow by bloody blow.
I can also recommend the follow up, Blood Spilt, although you do need to read them in order to enjoy them fully. I will be looking out for more thrillers from Asa Larsson; these aren't perfect but they are more than good enough to drag me back for more.
8/10
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars absorbing and atmospheric, 6 Mar 2011
By 
Sarah A. Brown (Cambridge) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Savage Altar (Paperback)
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 Kiruna by her old friend, Sanna, the sister of the dead preacher, and a prime suspect in the murder enquiry.

There are really several mysteries in play here, as we turn the pages to find out, not just who killed Viktor, but what is the full story behind the highly successful church he was associated with, and why does Rebecka have such conflicting feelings about Sanna and her other former friends.

As a thriller, I thought this was good, but not great. But as a novel it had much to recommend it - intriguing and quite original characters who seemed to possess some convicingly human inconsistency and sometimes made me unsure how to respond to them - Rebecka's boss, for example. I'd certainly recommend this to anyone who enjoys the genre, and will probably go on to read more by Asa Larsson.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling story with some sly humour, 30 Oct 2011
By 
E. A. Duns (devon UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Must admit to being a fan of current Scandinavian writing, so took a chance on another unknown (to me) author in the genre.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the writing is excellent with never a dull moment, and this is surely a high quality translation.
I really liked the sly humour that helps to bring the characters to life, and at no point felt that this book owed anything to any other author, despite the almost obligatory 'Steig Larsson' reference on the cover...
Asa Larsson's got an original style and writes brilliantly, and I'll definitely be reading everything else she's done!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scary but thoughtful Scandi crime; the first in great series, 7 July 2008
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Savage Altar (Hardcover)
Scandinavian crime fiction has really taken off in recent years and it's wonderful that books like Savage Altar (previously published as Sun Storm) are being translated and brought to a world-wide audience. The genre as a whole specialises in claustrophobic, small-scale mysteries, often made all the more chilling because they involve relatively few people in isolated areas where either the sun don't shine or - possibly worse - the days never dim...

Savage Altar introduces Rebecka Martinsson, a young city lawyer who is dragged back to confront the ghosts of her emotional past in her rural home town when an ex-boyfriend (of sorts) is brutally murdered. Rebecka is a fragile achiever; clever but compelled to work far too hard to make up for her insecurity. She over-reacts to a friendly approach from her boss with spiky ferocity, and many of her relationships feature awkward conversations and painful silences, where old arguments and grudges confuse the protagonists.
We also meet an interesting detective, who happens to be eight months pregnant and desperately trying to go on maternity leave; Rebecka's spiritual grandfather (who is called Sivving - and there's a great joke attached to that name), the murdered man's sister (who is both not what she seems and exactly what she seems), a sinister evangelical church and its collection of overenthusiastic pastors, plus the usual pushy bureaucrat who wants the whole murder case wrapped up in no time flat.
Where Savage Altar stands head and shoulders above run of the mill thrillers is in the very human scale of the mystery and the past events which have interwoven to culminate in the death of one young man - and a very real threat to his sister (who looks like the prime suspect) and to Rebecka. Savage Altar is littered with beautifully observed interactions; often the most touching are between humans and animals where affection can be more easily expressed than with other real live people...

Savage Altar is easy to read, well plotted and beautifully described. I romped through it in a couple of days, eager to find out whodunnit (and why), but also eager to spend time with the protagonists in a starkly beautiful, dangerous landscape. If your tastes run to American-style serial-killer or police procedural thrillers then Savage Altar may not be to your taste, however; much of the menace is implied rather than related, blow by bloody blow.
I can also recommend the follow up, Blood Spilt, although you do need to read them in order to enjoy them fully. I will be looking out for more thrillers from Asa Larsson; these aren't perfect but they are more than good enough to drag me back for more.
8/10
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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, 11 Dec 2010
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Savage Altar (Paperback)
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 this definitely feel less than fresh.

The beginning is very strong, but the rest of the book doesn't manage to avoid crime cliché (sexual shenanigans and religious obsession) culminating in the final showdown as the police rush to arrest the culprit...

This isn't a bad read by any means but is far from original.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cult Crime, 24 Jun 2013
The latest in a long line of Nordic crime writing so I did fear that The Savage Altar would suffer by comparison. Luckily it had a lot of features which made it stand out - no cliche seedy male detective with personal problems but a heavily pregnant woman. The principal character, Rebecka Martinsson,is brought in by her friend Sanna Strandgard who has become the principal suspect, when her brother Viktor is murdered in the cult church The Source of All our Strength.

This doesn't feel like the Millennium Project or Henning Mamkell as there as the dramatis personae is huge and the actions are viewed very close-up. The main characters are well drawn and believable, and the plot moves forward at just the right pace; there are a lot of sub plots to occupy the reader and even the minor characters are rich in detail. My only criticism is that the cast is actually too large and I was constantly flipping back and forth trying to remember them all.

An interesting setting (the Arctic mining town of Kiruna) and the cult church congregation and officials was also a novel community to investigate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average, 12 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Please do check other reviews for this author, she is NOT linked to Seig Larrson of 'the girl who....' fame, and is absolutely NOT in his league. That said, I stuck with this book and ended up liking it more than I had expected. It lacks the finesse, pace and believability of Jo Nesbo or Steig Larrson, but is an 'ok' read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent thriller. Well written. Great characters., 21 Sep 2011
This review is from: The Savage Altar (Paperback)
This book had me in its grip -not only to find out who the killer was but because the characters were intriguing. I could really "see" the locations and the people and found I couldn't put the book down.The main character Rebecka was an interesting person and her reactions to the other characters helped me to understand her, especially as more and more of her past was revealed.

Enjoyed this book so much that I am now looking for more of this author's work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good Swedish mystery writer, 7 Aug 2010
This review is from: The Savage Altar (Paperback)
If you like the Wallander series by Henning Mankell, then you will like these books. Asa Larsson hasn't written as many novels as Mankell, and only a few have been translated into English. Set in Lapland, the feeling of living north of the Arctic Circle is very evocative. The story unfolds gradually, but the reader is gripped from the beginning.

I would have liked a short section of notes at the end of the book (as in the Millenium trilogy by Stieg Larsson), as I didn't understand all the references to some aspects of Swedish life. However, I will certainly read the second novel in this series and all the rest as they are translated into English.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Savage Altar / Sun Storm, 21 Jan 2008
By 
Ms. M. A. Delargy "Marlaine Delargy" (Shropshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Savage Altar (Hardcover)
I am the translator of this book, and completely agree that the new title is very misleading. This is entirely down to the British publisher; there was no consultation with me, and I didn't even know the book was being published in the UK until somebody saw it in a bookshop and told me. Åsa's second book, The Blood Spilt, will be out here later this year - with the same title, I'm pleased to say! - and The Black Path is due out in the USA before too long.
Glad you enjoyed the story - I think she's a really good writer, and a joy to translate.
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The Savage Altar by Asa Larsson
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