Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir

Title: Last Rituals
Author: Yrsa Sigurdardóttir
Translated from the Icelandic: Bernard Scudder
ISBN: 9780061143373, Harper, 2009
Genre: Amateur Sleuth
Rating: C+

First Line: The head caretaker, Tryggvi, stood by the coffeemaker.

Lawyer and single mother Thóra Gudmundsdóttir is contacted by Matthew Reich, an ex-German police officer, for help. A wealthy German family's son has been studying at university in Reykjavík, Iceland. His body was found with his eyes cut out and strange symbols carved into his chest. His family doesn't believe that the Reykjavík police have the right man in custody. Since Thóra's law practice is struggling, she needs the money and agrees to conduct her own investigation.

It quickly comes to light that the murdered student was studying Iceland's history of torture, execution and witch hunts, and the more that Thóra and Reich investigate, the more likely it seems that his studies played a part in his murder.

I was greatly anticipating this book. One of the reasons why I love reading mysteries set in other countries is because I'm an armchair traveler. I love learning about other countries, and a feeling of place can add so much to a story. Sadly, there was very little sense of place in Last Rituals, and the plot didn't have much that was new either.

What I did enjoy a great deal was the character of Thóra, her dual careers of lawyer and mother, her dedication to both, her stubbornness, and her sense of humor that would flash unexpectedly and make me laugh. If not for Thóra, I doubt very much that I would read the next book in the series. Thóra sparkled to such a degree that I know I will be reading more about her in future.

[Source: Purchased from Amazon.]


  1. I'm like you...love being an armchair traveler. I moved around quite a bit in my earlier life, but now fly around in books more than the real deal. LOL

  2. This is too bad. I've been wanting to read this one for awhile now. I was especially interested in this one because of the setting. I may still give it a try, but I won't rush out to do so.

  3. Wisteria-- I'm traveling more now than I ever did in the past, so I learned to armchair it at an early age. :)

    Wendy-- If one of the main reasons why you want to read it is the setting, I wouldn't be in any hurry either.

  4. I love traveling through books as well. This one is on my shelf in the TBR pile. Yrsa is a blogger over at Murder is Everywhere (http://murderiseverywhere.blogspot.com/).

    I'm disappointed in your review--not your review, but in the book, I suppose. However, I'm still interested to delve into the world of this foreign author.

    Another armchair travel book I'm looking into getting is J. Sydney Jones' Requiem in Vienna.


  5. Michele-- I subscribe to Murder Is Everywhere. I also took part in the Poisoned Pen's Mystery Web Conference where Yrsa took part in panels and discussions. She is a very interesting lady with a good sense of humor. I *will* be reading more of her books!


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