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Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

Last Rituals (2005)

by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Thóra Guðmundsdóttir (1)

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English (42)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  All (48)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
About the only thing I liked about this one was the setting. I enjoy getting to visit different countries thru books, and I haven't read one set in Iceland before. My main love is historical fiction, and based on the blurb I expected more of that than what the author delivered. You get a little bit of the political background (though the author seems to assume those outside of Iceland be more familiar with that than at least I am) and a very little bit about witchcraft trials in the 16-17th centuries - mainly that in Iceland it was primarily men who were tried and executed for witchcraft, not women. I would love to learn more about that and maybe why that was so, but this book never gets into any of that.

I have to say I've never read a book where I have had such a strong dislike for the main character, Thora. She is far too concerned, not only about her appearance, but also everyone elses too. She also spends a considerable amount of time worried about what others are thinking about her and/or her status (i.e., the kind of car she drives, shoes, handbag). The author also seems to have issues with women who don't wear makeup - she also has other characters commenting on that in the book. Thora is also a hypocrite - continually making derisive remarks about one characters or anothers appearance, and then turns around and says that she doesn't judge people based on their looks!

And her 6 year old daughter isn't old enough to be able to brush her own teeth? And she doesn't think anything is amiss when her daughter mentions her older 16-year-old brother spends the afternoon jumping on the bed and howling? And she's supposed to be this super-smart investigator?

Fortunately this was a pretty quick read, and I got this from the library. I've heard her book "I Remember You" is supposed to be much better, but my library doesn't have it. And after this mess, I'm not going to spend any of my money of any book of hers! ( )
  catzkc | Mar 23, 2018 |
A nice book.
Quite strange, due to the inclination of the victim and his personal history.
I must admit that I didn't find it very thrilling (suspenseful) and at times I lost track of the explanations on the history of witchcraft. Nevertheless it was a nice book to read, not to be compared with a legal thriller, despite one of the main characters is a lawyer. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Jan 28, 2018 |
Review: Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurdardottir. 11/11/2017

The book was a slow start for me. It took some time getting used to the authors writing style of Icelandic language barrier between some of the characters. The story was an interesting mystery with a twist of dark history woven through the story.

Thora Gudmundsdottir recently divorced and worked as a partner in a Law Firm that was small and not financially doing well. She struggles to pay her bills and as a single mom she finds it hard to provide for them. So, when Thora is asked by a certain Frau Guntlieb of Germany for her expertise investigating the circumstances surrounding the murder of her son Harald who was a grad-student at the University in Iceland. She was offered a large sum of money so she took the job. The police did their investigation and charged a man and sent him to prison. However, Frau Guntlieb believes they got the wrong person.

Thora is assisted by another investigator, Matthew Reich who also works for the family. When Thora and Matthew started working together there was some animosity between them but it gradually faded. As the two investigates Harald’s life and his inner circle of friends Thora was also having some domestic issues with her son. The story gets interesting when themes of witchcraft, occult are involved with Heralds demise especially when he was found dead with his eyes gouged out and they were nowhere to be found…

The plot was intriguing but somewhat slow paced but patience is a virtue…. ( )
  Juan-banjo | Nov 18, 2017 |
In what has to be the worst start to the day ever, a history professor at a university in Reykjavík opens a cupboard door, only to have a corpse tumble out on top of him. And not only that, the corpse has strange symbols tattooed on it, and its eyes have been gouged out. Mercifully for the police, there is an easy suspect and a quick arrest. The family of the victim, a university student with macabre interests in witchcraft and torture, is less satisfied with the outcome. They ask Thora Gudmundsdottir to act on their behalf to ensure that the right person is brought to justice.

Despite the incredibly grim nature of the murder, and the horrific subject matter that the victim was interested in, Yrsa writes lightly and does not dwell unnecessarily on the details. She leavens the book with plenty of wry humour as well, as filtered through Thora. The book moves at a fast clip and Bernard Scudder's translation is smooth and largely free of distracting slang. (Sometimes you get translations of novels where the characters say things like "bloody hell" and "bugger" and it just doesn't sound quite right, even if that is the appropriate equivalent oath.)

This is a great series and I recommend it. This is the second one I've read, because I read out of order, but you wouldn't go wrong by reading this series in order. ( )
  rabbitprincess | May 22, 2017 |
At the University of Iceland the mutilated body of student Harald Guntlieb falls 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. 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.

As Thora and Matthew investigate the circumstances of Harald's death, Thora herself has to cope with a domestic crisis in her own family involving her son. Thora is a great character and I very much liked how she was portrayed in this book. She and Matthew have a bantering, witty relationship that is nicely understated. That sense of humor is part of what's notable about the story. The subject matter is quite dark, menacing and more than a little bit weird.

Last Rituals is a highly readable and entertaining debut novel which introduces two strong main characters amid some fascinating historical and cultural storytelling. I definitely plan to continue the series.
( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Yrsa Sigurdardottir has done a fine job of writing this mystery. The author does a remarkable job of interjecting much of her knowledge of Iceland into the current story. She grabs the reader's attention from the very beginning with an intriguing storyline, takes them through all the pieces of the puzzle with a tremendous amount of detail and concludes the novel in a way that will not be predictable. If you are looking for a novel that starts off with suspense and keeps right on going, "Last Rituals" is the one for you. I highly recommend this book.

LAST RITUALS is an 'academic mystery': that is, the crime takes place in a university department (a student is murdered), and the solution depends on the uncovering and understanding of the victim's research, as well as of the broader mores, religion and witchcraft in medieval Europe. Yet the book is by no means heavy-going; the opposite in fact. LAST RITUALS is an assured novel, ably translated by the late Bernard Scudder. I recommend it very highly.


» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yrsa Sigurðardóttirprimary authorall editionscalculated
Daddio, Jennifer AnnDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flecken, TinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kauko, TuomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Myklebost, ToneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scudder, BernardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serrano, ErvinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
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Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
This book is dedicated to my dear Oli. Special thanks to Harald Schmidt, who lent me his name -- and allowed me kill him.
-- Yrsa.
First words
The head caretaker, Tryggvi, stood idly by the coffee maker.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Original work (in Islandic): Þriðja táknið

Bulgarian: Tрeтият знaк (Tretijat znak)

Danish: Det tredje tegn

Dutch: Het laatste ritueel

English: Last rituals

Finnish: Kolmas merkki

German: Das letzte Ritual

Greek: O Kyklos Toy Kakoy

Portuguese: O último ritual

Spanish: El último ritual

Swedish: Det tredje tecknet

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061143367, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:31 -0400)

Attorney Thóra Guomundsdottir and her new partner, Matthew Reich, journey to a remote corner of Iceland to investigate how the murder of a German student may be connected to the victim's interest in witchcraft.

» see all 8 descriptions

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