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Sacrifice Paperback – June 9, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Bodies found in peat bogs—the peat preserves human flesh—make irresistible launching points for crime fiction. Erin Hart’s Haunted Ground was one of the best first crime novels of 2003, and now Bolton’s debut is in the running for the same distinction this year. Hart’s bog was in Ireland, and the novel drew on Irish history. Bolton’s is in Scotland, on one of the Shetland Islands, and she draws equally effectively on an ancient Scottish legend. Tora Hamilton, an obstetrician recently relocated to the Shetlands with her husband, a native of the region, is digging on her property when she discovers the body of a young woman. Pathologists determine that the body is not ancient, as was first supposed, but contemporary. Further investigation reveals that the victim died within days of giving birth and that her heart had been cut from her body. As Tora begins to investigate, she is warned off by the police, her hospital colleagues, and even her husband. With the help of another outsider, a police detective also new to the area, she discovers further anomalies: Why does the death rate of young women in the Shetlands spike every three years? As she comes closer to the truth, the connection to ancient lore emerges, and the Shetlands, once so tranquil and charming, turn menacing and deadly, much in the manner of the English moors when a certain Baskervillean hound was on the loose. Bolton combines rich history, precise forensic detail, and breathtaking use of landscape in what is a stunning blend of medical thriller and creepy gothic suspense tale. Yes, the plot is outlandish, but it grips us all the same and doesn’t let go. --Bill Ott --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Praise for Sacrifice

“The page-turner of the summer . . . Extraordinary.”
—The Denver Post

“A chilling story . . . The plot never loses interest, the setting is beautiful . . . and the characters are well drawn. This is S. J. Bolton’s first book. I hope it’s the first of many.”
—The Charlotte Observer

“Brilliant plot with mythic overtones. . . . This promising new talent delivers some profound insights into the eternal nature of evil.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; Reprint edition (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312381867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312381868
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book started off well but explanations and endings just not satisfying.
ahammerquilts
The book started off with some promise, but for some reason I couldn't warm to the main character.
Emily Louisa
This story is so well thought out, and so strongly plotted, from every imaginable angle.
Lisa Stowe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jody Allen on July 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was drawn to the book because of the setting: the Shetland Islands off of Scotland's far north coast. What drew me in was the chilling mystery of who the body in the peat was and why was she buried if she had only just given birth, and why was her heart ripped out?

The main protagonists is an unlikely heroine in Tora Hamilton an obstetrician who is obsessed with finding out who was the young lass who she found buried in her yard in the peat. But quickly the reader is thrown into a mystery that engulfs a mixture of ancient Norse legends that clash with the modern technology of criminology. But as our heroine keeps just one step ahead of death, her own, she quickly learns she can't trust anyone on the island including those closest to her.

There are a lot of twists and turns with just enough clues to help the reader but things may not be as they seem, which helps to make this one of the most chilling reads. The only downside is some of the UK terminology of the characters but it doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the book. The pace is well done with only a few bumps in the road and the reader finds their self cheering Tora along the way to solve the mystery of the dead woman hoping that all she loses will be worth it. To realize this offering is from a debut author is equally exciting because we have a wonderful new author to look forward to.

This is a most unique find and should be read by those who like a strong mystery along with a sprinkling of Celtic/Nordic legends and aren't afraid to take a chance on a new author.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts VINE VOICE on July 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
SACRIFICE (Suspense-Tora Hamilton-Shetland Island, UK - Cont) - G+
Bolton, S.J. - 1st book
Bantam Press, 2008, UK Hardcover - ISBN: 9780593059111

First Sentence: The corpse I could cope with. It was the context that threw me.

Tora Hamilton is a newcomer, but has moved to the Shetland Islands with her husband, who was born there but left 20 years ago. Digging a grave in which to bury a beloved horse who has died, Tora uncovers the body of a woman who had been tortured, body mutilated and runes curved into her back.

While others are telling Tora, an obstetrician and surgeon, not to become involved, what was done to the victim make it imperative for Tora to investigate. The more she learns, the more frightening it all becomes. When an attempt is made on her life, Tora is no longer certain who she can trust.

Bolton's debut mystery certainly had all the elements; an interesting locale well depicted, a gruesome crime, a smart, gutsy protagonist, good suspense, a local legend that became creepier as the book went on, and a wonderful element of uncertainty as to whom the protagonist could trust.

The beginning is fairly gory but I found myself immediately drawn in. The story then lost a bit of steam, took a while to rebuild but then raced on to a very exciting ending. The setting played into the plot perfectly, but the writing did show aspects of it being a first book.

I shall definitely look for Bolton's next book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By annie on July 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How do you make murder and mayhem new and exciting? S.J. Bolton's done it with her debut novel. Set in the Shetland Islands , an unusual and interesting locale. The Viking/Scottish lore and legend is fascinating and, yes, a bit disturbing. The characters are believable, not one dimensional cookie cutter people. Bolton's style of writing often feels like the two of you are chatting over a cup of tea. Nice, very nice. I don't know that she'll write a second book, but I'm certainly hoping.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By bookloverintexas on November 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Loved the first two thirds to three fourths of the book, found the last part so full of improbable twists and reved up to the point where it was too far out there, but the story had given me so much fun and excitement by that time that I was OK with it. Great characters; practically everyone is a suspect, and you don't dare turn your back on a soul. I was intrigued with the mood and setting of the Shetland Islands and enjoyed frequently checking maps to see exactly where we were.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Diane M. Drew on January 31, 2014
Format: Paperback
This book came highly recommended by friends whose tastes I respect and for the first half of the book I was in agreement: great plot, intriguing premise, interesting twists and turns. But somewhere along the halfway point it dove off the deep-end of believability. A few too many switches of who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, who's really dead and which body belong to which identity. Some of the plot lines make the hospital that is part of the setting seem like it's being run like a 19th century hostel. Despite technology the most basic information gets corrupted and misused. As the plot went deeper into the morass of fantasy, it seemed that the central character, Tora, is competent -- nay, expert -- at everything she attempts: riding a horse for hours over treacherous terrain in pitch dark, sailing alone across violent ocean waters, hiking cliffs. Able to master all these challenges despite constantly multiplying complications, Tora and the plot both come to seem quite beyond belief. I finished the book and found the last 20-30 pages somewhat satisfying in at least nominally resolving the mysteries and felt it was worth reading from an entertainment POV. But I hope the author can rein in her imagination and plot twists a bit with her next outing.
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