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Den Som Gräver En Grav (2006)

by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir(Favorite Author)
3.71 of 5 Votes: 1
9173510874 (ISBN13: 9789173510875)
Damm Förlag
Þóra Guðmundsdóttir
review 1: A newly developed hotel/spa with rumors of being haunted, desolate farmhouses, a series of murders, all that could have formed part of a 'cozy crime' mystery, take a slightly darker tone in Yrsa Sigurdardottir's second novel 'My Soul to Take' in the attorney 'Thóra Gudmundsdóttir' series.'Thora' is a much needed change from the world weary, alcoholic protagonists that have become the staple of Scandinavian crime fiction (and indeed in crime fiction from other countries too). Yes, Thora too is divorced, but thankfully she does not suffer from any existential crisis. Her problems are more practical, raising two kids as a single mother, with one of them a 16 year boy himself set to become a father, juggling work and handling 'Bella', her secretary who brings new meaning to ... morethe words 'slob' and 'insolence'. Thora is asked by her client 'Jónas' to investigate the hotel, as she had assisted him in the purchase of the lands. Thora goes there and is confronted by a murder almost immediately which is just the beginning.'My Soul to Take' is more tightly plotted than 'Last Rituals' which relied more on it's atmosphere to salvage it. Multiple murders happen and there are lots of red herrings and twists thrown in to keep the reader guessing. Yes, there are 'ghosts' here, but not the malevolent ones that are said to harass human beings after their death. These are ghosts of actions done in the past, actions that leave a permanent scar and create ghosts of memories that haunts people. A small town atmosphere with practically everyone knowing everyone and most of them harboring a hatred for someone for a (in some cases perceived) slight/wrong done, creating a claustrophobic environment is brought out well.Though the subject matter is dark, the tone of Yrsa's prose is light in most places (other than those about the past), Thora's exasperation at her son taking his heavily pregnant lover on a road trip, the various psychics in the hotel/spa and their theories on the 'spirit' that supposedly haunts the hotel, Thora's relation with her lover 'Maththew' all provide a bit of relief from the heavy duty murders. Indeed, as in other successful series of novels, the reader is as invested in the main/recurring characters as he is in the actual core of the novel. I am very interested in seeing the growth of these characters in the next novels (Bella needs to be given a much bigger role in the next novels of the series, there is potential here for a recurring character which is borne out by descriptions of other novels where she apparently plays a much bigger role). When such characters are bound with a solid mystery as in this novel, it does make for an engrossing read. This series is a worthy addition to the Scandinavian crime wave.
review 2: "A grisly murder is committed at a health resort situated in a recently renovated farmhouse, which turns out to be notorious for being haunted. Attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir is called upon by the owner of the resort - the prime suspect in the case - to represent him. Her investigations uncover some very disturbing occurrences at the farm decades earlier - things that have never before seen the light of day . . ." "My Soul to Take is a chilling, dark and witty crime novel, and a welcome return for Thora, the heroine of the highly acclaimed Last Rituals." "Spooky and gruesome . . . chilling and witty" SpectatorI added this book to my TBR pile after reading a review on it over at Savidge Reads. He absolutely loved it - maybe it was because he was over in Iceland at the time - and given the book blurb and glowing review I decided to give it a go. I thought this was going to be a book that I could only read in the daylight hours because reading it at bedtime was going to give me the heeby-jeebies. I am easily spooked. I think I may spend half my life in a spooked induced paranoid state.However (I hate the fact that once again I am saying the word 'however'. It seems that all my book reviews at the moment are of the slightly negative persuasion) maybe something was lost in translation. Maybe if you are Icelandic and are reading it in your native tongue this book lives up to its description. Yes, it is witty in places and I may have smiled once or twice but spooked I was not. Not once. Gruesome? Maybe a smidge, but not enough to churn your stomach.The main character - Thora - is likeable enough, but I never really got her. She's a solicitor yet spends most of the book swanning around asking people questions like a detective. If a solicitor walked up to you and started asking you questions about things that they have absolutely no connection to, you would tell them where to go. Maybe solicitors are different in Iceland. Maybe they are the same as the police over there. All I got from Thora was a whiff of Jessica Fletcher. Jessica Fletcher (bless her) is not chilling, gruesome or spooky (well, maybe in that episode of Murder She Wrote where she plays two characters - Jessica and her long-lost English cousin with the appalling accent that makes you forget that Angela Lansbury is actually British and don't get me started on the Hollywood version of British streets that are a spectacular fail). Thora comes across as a bit of a nosey parker / busy body.Then there is the writing itself. Now, I am not pertaining to be a officiando of writing styles. I am sure that, if they wanted too, people could pick apart my writing style and find swiss cheese sized holes in it. Different writing styles appeal to different people, that's what it so great about books. But to me, it lacked any real tension / frisson / chilling excitement. It is quite descriptive, but I never really got the impression that I was ever seeing anything or feeling anything from a character's perspective. Instead of:Suddenly the sound of a creaking floorboard came from behind him. Turning around quickly, a cool, slightly musty scented breeze gently blew across his face, causing him to shiver. Taking a deep breath, he pulled himself together and carried on.It would be more like:There was a sudden sound of a creaking floorboard behind him. He turned around and a cool, peculiar smelling breeze blew across his face. He shivered. He took a deep breath and realised he needed to gather his thoughts together before carrying on.The difference is subtle, but I hope you can see what I am trying to illustrate (NB: I just made that paragraph up, it is not in the book). Some of this could be down to the translation from Icelandic to English, but Jo Nesbo's work is also translated and that guy can suck me in to his stories at the drop of a hat.The story did drag a little, as Thora spends most of her time rummaging around in boxes in musty cellars and rubbing people up the wrong way with her questions, from which she doesn't glean any useful pieces of information.There was also supposed to be a ghost / supernatural element to the whole thing, but this was hardly ever mentioned and even when it came to the grand summing-up at the end, it was only briefly explained (in an unsatisfactory manner).All of this aside, it is an okay mystery. You don't really have any idea who the murderer is until the last couple of chapters. There are many false trails throughout the story, so as all good mysteries should, there are several people with a motive. But . . . there are maybe too many people - sons, daughters, grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents, various members of staff, hotel guests . . . the list goes on. To be honest it makes it all a little confusing and I began to switch off everytime someone else appeared in the frame.All in all, I will give it 2 out of 5 stars, and I'm sorry to say that I don't think I will be reading anymore of Yrsa's stories and that this book will not be taking up precious space on my book shelves - it will be donated to the Oxfam Bookshop, where maybe someone else will like it more than me. less
Reviews (see all)
quick read. lighter than the other Icelandic mysteries I've read. I liked the "heroine"
My Soul TO Take kept you going until the very end. Well written.
The detectives are sex-happy teens, but the story is good.
Icelandic Author that I like...2nd in series.
Lê-se, mas não entusiasma!
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