At a university in Reykjav k, 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 Th ra Gudmundsd ttir, an attorney and single mother of two, to investigate. It isn’t long before Th ra 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.
Last Rituals is an enjoyable, although fairly slow, read about a lawyer, Thora, who is asked to help investigate a murder case by the victim’s – student Harald’s – rich and influential family.
We mostly follow Thora (or Þóra, as I now realise is how it’s written in Icelandic) as she works with the family’s private investigator Matthew to try to find out whether the person who has been arrested for the murder is actually responsible. We also see some chapters focusing on Harald’s friends, and some of the story focuses on Thora’s family life.
The plot has some dark and gritty parts to it, as Thora discovers that Harald was involved in some weird practices, which adds some extra intrigue. The narrator did a good job with this and it was great to hear the Icelandic works pronounced instead of trying to figure it out from their written form (though I’m not exactly sure how they’d be written down in the written format of the book), but I do find with audiobooks that I really have to be drawn into the plot, otherwise my mind wanders whilst I’m listening. With Last Rituals I found that during some of the slower parts, my mind wandered. However, these parts often offered more insight into the odd characters that feature throughout the novel, so they were of interest even though they’re not action-packed – I just didn’t find myself hugely interested in some of it.
Overall, though, this was an interesting read (or ‘listen’, as I did) and I can see there are five books in the series in total.