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Last Rituals: A Novel of Suspense (Thora Gudmundsdottir Novels) Paperback – April 7, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Thora Gutmundsdottir, a divorced mother who started her own legal partnership receives a phone call from Germany from the Amelia Guntlieb who had been given her name by one of Thora's former professors. Amelia's son was murdered in Iceland and the family needs assistance. The Guntliebs do not feel the local police investigated their son's case thoroughly. Amelia proposes that Thora work with Matthew Reich, a man who spent 5 years with the Munich CID. Although Matthew has the investigative skills needed, he does not know the Icelandic language well enough to ask questions and mix with the locals well enough to get real answers. Certain shocking details of Harald's murder are just too mysterious, eerie and gruesome to believe the murder is connected to a drug deal gone bad. Does someone have a personal vendetta against Harald? After initial reservations, Thora accepts the case and Matthew hands over a dossier detailing many of the particulars of Harald's life. Do the details of his murder relate to his studies of history or to some dark hidden aspect of his personal life? Are the gruesome details a measure of the killer's rage or a clue to the identity of some mysterious group? What does the strange symbol mean?Read more ›
The biggest minus of the book, in my opinion, is that Thora's personal life isn't really developed enough to be in the book. I felt oddly off balance whenever reading these details because they seemed sometimes like the author threw them in there and then didn't really go anywhere with them. Thora seemed much to casual about some of the events in her life--especially when it comes to the humongous bomb that her 15-year-old son drops on her. I have a hard time believing any mother could be as sanguine as Thora is, distracted by the case or not.
The real strength of the book, then, is in the mystery. I read a lot of mystery novels but I've never read one that's taken a foray into this particular territory and so it made for a nice change of pace. The murder victim's interest in witchcraft made for some interesting cultural lessons not only about Iceland but also about Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. The author also did a nice job making the victim's family mysterious and revealing a surprising plot twist at the end. Harald is anything but a sympathetic character and while I've read mystery novels where the victim isn't the nicest person in the world, Harald's personality added an interesting twist.
The book seems very well researched, though I'm certainly no scholar of history. It is very detailed and well plotted and this is what makes me think that with some work and some polish, this author has the potential to become a fine writer.
The depth of history on Iceland and its association with witchcraft is simply fascinating. I'm unfamiliar with any of the history but the author presents it in an interesting manner. The details are often gory and the murder, along with the physical appearance of Harald prior to his death, is rather gruesome. Please be forewarned that this is an intense, even bizarre story at times. That is not to say that it isn't good, as it definitely is!
Thora is an intriguing character. The story focuses primarily on the investigation, but the glimpses into her personal life offer a portrait of a loving and caring mother. The contrast between the two mothers, Thora and Amelia Guntlieb, is startling. Thora's interactions with her son provide a much needed positive note to counterbalance the darkness that is portrayed in LAST RITUALS. I loved the way Yrsa Sigurdardottir made some very subtle but important statements about family, particularly in the midst of dysfunction.
LAST RITUALS is clearly not a tale that will appeal to all. The grisly details alone will discourage some readers. The style is very unique as this book has more the feel of literature than your typical thriller. LAST RITUALS is an intense read, but one easily worth reading.
COURTESY OF CK2S KWIPS AND KRITIQUES
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a fun read. The writing is a little stiff, maybe due to the translation. But Thora is a very likable character and it was a fun ride. I'll read the next one.Published 2 months ago by r beach
This was an unexpectedly great thriller. I picked up the English translation of this book since I heard her horror novel was scary, but my library did not have it. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Lauren Kardos
I love these books. I have been to Iceland and so the setting makes a more sense and brings back memories.Published 4 months ago by Jennie Ridgley
Although this seems to follow the tradition of the Scandinavian crime novels I been reading recently, I found it more difficult because of the unfamiliar names and locations. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Froda
Harald Guntlieb is a German student who is studying the history of witches in Iceland. He is found has brutally murdered and a friend of his is accused of the crime. Read morePublished 6 months ago by L. .G. avid reader
This is my second book by this author, the first was "Someone to watch over me". I like both books.Published 6 months ago by Robert Webster
I couldn't finish this novel because the translation was so poor -- clunky and with odd phrases that didn't read like English. Read morePublished 9 months ago by jhutc16
Very intriguing book and as usual the human quality is there as well. Good book, topic was unusual and the characters very interesting. Enjoyed...Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer