Last Rituals, Paperback
4 out of 5 (3 ratings)


The first Thora Gudmundsdottir novel from Yrsa Sigurdardottir - 'Queen of Icelandic crime'. 'Yrsa is one of the most exciting new voices in the crime thriller world.' - Peter James A young man is found brutally murdered, his eyes gouged out.

A student of Icelandic history in Reykjavik, he came from a wealthy German family who do not share the police's belief that his drug dealer murdered him.

Attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir is commissioned by his mother to find out the truth, with the help - and hindrance - of boorish ex-policeman Matthew Reich.

Their investigations into his research take them deep into a grisly world of torture and witchcraft both past and present, as they draw ever closer to a killer gripped by a dangerous obsession...


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Crime & mystery
  • ISBN: 9780340920633



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by
At a university in Reykjavík, the body of a young German student is discovered, his eyes cut out and strange symbols carved into his chest. Police waste no time in making an arrest, but the victim's family isn't convinced that the right man is in custody. They ask Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, an attorney and single mother of two, to investigate. It isn't long before Thóra and her associate, Matthew Reich, uncover the deceased student's obsession with Iceland's grisly history of torture, execution, and witch hunts. But there are very contemporary horrors hidden in the long, cold shadow of dark traditions. And for two suddenly endangered investigators, nothing is quite what it seems . . . and no one can be trusted.

An intriguing mystery with an engaging lead in Thora and a fine case of supporting characters.

The historical aspect of the novel; the medieval witch hunts which took place in Iceland was interesting and fitted with the bleakness of the setting. I thought the partnership of Thora and Matthew worked really well and gave the story a nice light, humorous touch with their mis matched interplay. In spite of the dark subject matter, it is at times wickedly funny. Recommended
Review by

At the University of Iceland the mutilated body of student Harald Guntlieb tumbles onto one of his professors when the door to a small room is opened one morning. Police soon arrest Harald’s friend Dori, who they believe to have been his drug supplier, for the murder. However Harald’s family in Germany are unsatisfied with the investigation and send an investigator they know, Matthew Reich, to Iceland who teams up with a local lawyer, Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, to find what the police might have missed. Together they re-trace the steps Harald took during his research into the history of witchcraft and magic, believing that might have played a role in his death.<br/><br/>When Last Rituals won the ‘what shall I read next’ roulette wheel spin I dove in without even reading the blurb let alone taking another look at the reviews that must have prompted me adding it to the TBR pile in the first place. Consequently I wasn’t anticipating a funny book so the laughs generated by Thóra’s humorous and somewhat cynical internal monologue and her sarcastic bantering with Matthew were a wonderful surprise (and a tribute to the translator as I think linguistic humour must be a difficult thing to get right). Probably because I tend to have a similarly bent view of the world I really appreciated Thóra’s attitude which, though irreverent in some circumstances, never got in the way of her getting things done. She also demonstrated genuine backbone when it came to standing up for her son in the face of overwhelming disapproval and I found myself liking Thóra, and the overall tone of the book, very much.<br/><br/>The plot is a standard whodunit despite the macabre overtones provided by the mutilated body and the research topic chosen by Harald. His small group of friends, all part of a group devoted (at least part-time) to the performance of sorcery, provide a pool of potential suspects although I have to admit I didn’t find these characters quite as believable as the two main characters. However the fact that the case led Thóra and Matthew to discover interesting tidbits about Iceland’s history of dealing with witches and witchcraft was interesting (if a bit complicated at times).<br/><br/>Last Rituals is the author’s first adult novel (she also writes children’s books) and it’s quite a stellar debut. The characters and style are original and the plot is intricate but logical. I’m looking forward to more from Yrsa Sigurdardottier.

Review by
All at once, Thora began to pity him. Her maternal instinct kicked in. Or was it her grandmotherly instinct? 'Who said I wasn't going to help you?' she said. 'Let's see what I can find out. I won't touch your defence with a bargepole, but I'll be in court. I wouldn't miss the trial for all the tea in China.'A short, fun murder mystery (423 pages, but a large font ) set in Iceland. German history student Harald Schmidt has been murdered in strange circumstances, and one of his friends has been changed with his murder, but the Schmidt family do not believe that he is guilty. So one of their employees is sent to Reykjavik and hires a Rekjavik lawyer to help him investigate the crime. There is a bit too much info-dumping for my taste and the characters state the obvious a few too many times, but this was still an enjoyable read, as I tried to work out how the members of Harald's witchcraft society were involved in his death, and why his relationship with his parents had soured so much.

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