While browsing for gifts in IÐA, a display of Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s novels caught my eye . I flipped through a few of the books and was intrigued. Due to space limitations in our luggage I decided to purchase them upon our return home. I was looking forward to reading my first Icelandic crime novel, or anything Icelandic for that matter, and was keen to find out what all the hype was about as Yrsa is arguably the most famous contemporary crime novelist from Iceland (not to mention a successful civil engineer and acclaimed children’s novelist as well).
I thought it fitting to start with Yrsa’s first novel, Last Rituals (Þriðja táknið), which turned out to be a surprisingly funny book given the dark subject matter. It was exciting to follow Thóra Gudmundsdóttir and Matthew Reich on their investigation of Harald Guntlieb’s murder as it took us throughout the southern coast and passed through places like Hella, Hekla and Skálholt, all familiar spots from our recent South Iceland adventure. The Blue Lagoon even made an appearance toward the end!
You don’t necessarily have to have been to Iceland to appreciate the setting but it certainly does make it more engaging when you’re able to conjure up images of all the places in your head. And if you haven’t been to Iceland yet I hope that this novel will inspire you to go! This is a great mystery with so many unexpected twists and turns and as I was reading I kept thinking this would make a great film! Intensely disturbing, yet sprinkled with the right amount of humour to lighten the story. Not to mention, Thóra and Matthew are incredibly likeable and make a funny duo.
Not that it’s a problem for me, but my only criticism might be that the translation is very British and it might not be easy for non-Brits to follow, on top of all the Icelandic names. But hey, it is an Icelandic novel so I guess it’s a non-issue after all. I look forward to reading more of Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s works.