22 November 2015

Review: ASHES TO DUST, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 923 KB
  • Print Length: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (July 22, 2010)
  • Publication Date: July 22, 2010
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003Y3BLO4
  • translated from Icelandic by Philip Roughton
  • #3 in the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series
Synopsis (Amazon)

The third crime novel from international bestseller Yrsa Sigurdardottir, ASHES TO DUST is tense, taut and terrifying - not to be missed for fans of Nordic Noir.

Thora peered at the floor, but couldn't see anything that could have frightened Markus that much, only three mounds of dust. She moved the light of her torch over them. It took her some time to realize what she was seeing-- and then it was all she could do not to let the torch slip from her hand. 'Good God,' she said. She ran the light over the three faces, one after another. Sunken cheeks, empty eye-sockets, gaping mouths; they reminded her of photographs of mummies she'd once seen in National Geographic. 'Who are these people?'

'I don't know,' said Markus . . . 

Bodies are discovered in one of the excavated houses at a volcanic tourist attraction dubbed 'The Pompeii of the North'.
Markus Magnusson, who was only a teenager when the volcano erupted, falls under suspicion and hires attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir to defend him - but when his childhood sweetheart is murdered his case starts to look more difficult, and the locals seem oddly reluctant to back him up . . .

My take

This novel is #3 in the author's Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series and so I caused myself a bit of confusion because I had read the latest two. I always advise readers to tackle a series in order of publication if at all possible and in this case, things have moved on in Thora's life by the later two novels (so I had memories of events that hadn't yet happened).

The historic element of the story is based around a volcanic eruption which began on the eastern side of Heimaey in the Westman Islands on 23 January 1973 and resulted in the evacuation of the island with some houses buried by lava and others by ash. More information on Wikipedia.
Now, over three decades later, archaeologists are excavating some of the houses and Thora's client Markus Magnusson wants to retrieve a box from the basement of his parent's house. The subsequent discoveryof three long dead bodies and a box containing the head of another is totally unexpected.

Thora's investigation is made more complicated by the bizarre murder of a woman Marcus was once in love with, and complications with a rape case.

The whole story is indeed complicated and very noir, but I'm happy to report that the author gave me just enough hints so I was able to piece the chain of events together just before Thora managed to,

My rating: 4.5

I've also reviewed

List from Fantastic Fiction
1. Last Rituals (2007)
2. My Soul to Take (2009)
3. Ashes to Dust (2010)
4. The Day is Dark (2011)
5. Someone to Watch Over Me (2013)
6. The Silence of the Sea (2014)


Margot Kinberg said...

I liked this one, too, Kerrie. I like the way that the past and present are tied together.

R.T. said...

I once lived in Iceland, and I'm really looking for to reading this one. Thanks for the posting. All the best from R.T. at The Simple Art of Murder.


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