Title: Ashes to Dust
Author: Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Crime Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Thirty-five years after a volcano erupted, covering the tiny Icelandic village of Heimaey in ash, excavators have returned to uncover the remains of the town. Through it’s well known that no one perished in the eruption, and that everyone was safely evacuated, three corpses and one severed head are found in the basement of the Magnusson home. Lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottir represents Markus Magnusson, who hired Thora to stop the excavation, and as a result, he is the police’s first suspect. Now Thora must endeavor to clear Markus’ name while also finding the truth behind the bodies.
Yrsa Sigurdardottir is another Scandinavian crime fiction author, one who is still new to the United States market. With Ashes to Dust, that may change quickly, as it’s a twisty, gripping mystery that will leave readers guessing until the very end. From the beginning, Thora believes Markus when he says he is innocent, for a good reason – he never would have led her into the basement of his old home if he knew what was hidden there. Additionally, Markus was just a boy when these men’s bodies were likely placed in the basement. Thora has too many suspects – everyone in the village – and yet none at all, as no one knows who these people actually were. Everyone who lived in the village was accounted for in the evacuation.
Thus begins the race against the clock to discover the true story behind these corpses. It’s an old mystery, which makes it harder to solve. The children of Heimaey are now adults with children of their own. No one has any real interest in helping Thora, especially when doing so might expose their own secrets. Sigurdardottir writes at an expert pace, smoothly keeping the plot moving while not giving away too much too quickly. It makes for an entertaining and captivating read.
Though Ashes to Dust is the third book in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series, readers won’t have many problems reading this novel as a standalone, as I did. Thora’s personal life is a bit complicated and that aspect can be confusing, but otherwise it’s easy to fall right into this book. Thora herself is an appealing, attractive main character for this book. She’s smart, determined, and resourceful, and she does an excellent job getting answers out of the most stubborn interviewees. I look forward to going back and learning more about her in Last Rituals and My Soul to Take.
Though Ashes to Dust was the first I’d heard of Yrsa Sigurdardottir, it definitely won’t be the last. With her confident writing style and twisty story lines, fans of crime fiction (especially of the Scandinavian variety) won’t be able to put this book down. Sigurdardottir has developed an excellent main character for her series and I look forward to seeing where she takes Thora next.