My Soul to Take-Yrsa Sigurðóttir
Novel, in translation
"Thóra returns in her second case, this time representing a client convinced that a ghost is haunting his newly acquired property, a resort on the west coast of Iceland. Thóra heads out to the coast to consult, looking forward to a weekend without her children. Markedly more cozy and less macabre than the previous book, this one is also slower paced, both in the reading and the investigation. Thóra does not believe in the ghost, but when bodies start turning up around the resort, she decides to poke around."
I haven't read the previous Thóra novel but based on this one I want to. I liked Thóra-she's a divorced single mother who is slightly stressed and a small time lawyer whose nosiness I didn't grit my teeth at. That's rare. I don't understand, however, why the German Matthew doesn't have an active role in the investigation. As much as I enjoy the strong female sleuth, Matthew's job meant he should have been able to do more than just hang out in the backdrop. Minor nitpick though. I also loved that you got to know the victims just enough that when they died...well, you sort of cared.
The novel grips you in with a story of...no other word, horribleness but once we get into the contemporary part of the book the subject matter is treated with a lot more quirky humor. Sigurðóttir balances the dark crimes with the light humor with a deft hand. This book despite being a crime novel respects its environs. Iceland is not a passive backdrop but something that permeates the entire novel giving it a great sense of place. The plot is convoluted to say the least but Sigurðóttir doesn't lose her threads but rather steadily weaves them together in a way that actually keeps you guessing for awhile longer than you'd expect. I mean, that you are constantly second guessing even when it seems to be clear. The supernatural beliefs are never truly mocked or dismissed until the very end and are used to great effect to create the slightly creepy feeling of the haunted spa. The spa's atmosphere is further creepified (not a word but whatever) by the inclusion of history i.e. Nazism and tuberculosis. I mean, you always want the people in old pictures to not be evil but this novel doesn't shy away from proving that no life is harmless.
Fantastic crime novel.