When single mother and local lawyer Þóra Guðmundsdóttir (or Thora Gudmondsdottir (well, ish) to you and me) is asked to investigate the ritualistic murder of an eccentric German history student, she finds herself researching the history of Icelandic witchcraft. But would someone kill to keep the secrets of the past? (Presumably, or this is going to be a short book)
Yrsa Sigurðardóttir is 'the queen of Icelandic crime', so I had high hopes of this Scandi potboiler. Sadly, it failed to live up to them. Instead, there was awkward prose (translation?), dubious character choices and cheap crime tropes that set my teeth on edge.
Heroine Thora oscillated between being magnificent (facing down her ex-husband), bitchy (I actually felt sorry for Bella, even though she appears to be every bit as bad at her job as Thora thinks), and childish/naive. But I couldn't get past her inexplicable and inappropriate interactions with co-investigator Matthew, who was keeping any redeeming features carefully under wraps. This central relationship more or less spoiled the book for me.
The story itself leans heavily on the witchcraft angle to try and stand out, but has little to offer in terms of character development or consistent plotting. By the time I got to Harald's mother blaming herself for her son's lifestyle choices, I'd long since checked out.Full review.