Book Review: Ashes to Dust – Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Title: Ashes to Dust
Author: Yrsa Sigurdardottir
ISBN: 9780312641740
Pages: 368
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

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.

Review:

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.

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Comments

  1. I don’t want to be Debbie Downer, but I did read My Soul To Take, and I had issues. I felt that Thora was bumbling and not very smart, not savvy with suspects. And from a plot perspective, there were obnoxious red herrings all over the place. Perhaps her work is getting better, sharper and leaner, but I didn’t finish that book wanting more.

  2. I don’t want to be Debbie Downer, but I did read My Soul To Take, and I had issues. I felt that Thora was bumbling and not very smart, not savvy with suspects. And from a plot perspective, there were obnoxious red herrings all over the place. Perhaps her work is getting better, sharper and leaner, but I didn’t finish that book wanting more.

  3. I read the first book in this series, and liked it well enough, I think as I remember, but have not read the others. Maybe I should reread my review..

  4. I read the first book in this series, and liked it well enough, I think as I remember, but have not read the others. Maybe I should reread my review..

  5. LOL – my review is up today too and to me, the weakness was Thora!

  6. LOL – my review is up today too and to me, the weakness was Thora!

  7. I don’t think this one is for me, but I did appreciate your well-rounded take on it. I like that you included a nice description of the plot twists and the characters, and that your enthusiasm for the book came through in your review. Thanks for your thoughtful take on it!

  8. I don’t think this one is for me, but I did appreciate your well-rounded take on it. I like that you included a nice description of the plot twists and the characters, and that your enthusiasm for the book came through in your review. Thanks for your thoughtful take on it!

  9. I’ve read all three books in the series so far, and have really enjoyed all of them! I enjoyed your review, and agree that it does keep the reader guessing up to the end, doesn’t it? I hope you do read the others. There’s a fourth one out now, that I will be picking up very soon to read. The Day is Done, I think is the title.

    I quite like Thora. I do sometimes wonder if what she does is obstruction with the investigation, though in this novel that is resolved quite well, I thought.

  10. I’ve read all three books in the series so far, and have really enjoyed all of them! I enjoyed your review, and agree that it does keep the reader guessing up to the end, doesn’t it? I hope you do read the others. There’s a fourth one out now, that I will be picking up very soon to read. The Day is Done, I think is the title.

    I quite like Thora. I do sometimes wonder if what she does is obstruction with the investigation, though in this novel that is resolved quite well, I thought.

  11. Despite the mix of reactions here I’d read this just for the Icelandic setting. I’m fairly forgiving in my mystery reading so I bet this would work for me.

  12. Despite the mix of reactions here I’d read this just for the Icelandic setting. I’m fairly forgiving in my mystery reading so I bet this would work for me.

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