I read this despite the marketing copy on the cover, and I’m glad I did. “An Icelandic novel of secret symbols, medieval witchcraft, and modern murder,” sounds like something a la Dan Brown, and that’s not my favorite kind of read. A professor discovers the gruesome corpse of a student from Germany, and the deceased’s family hires lawyer Thóra Gudmundsdóttir to be a sort of consultant to enable them to check on the Icelandic police investigation. She’s more than a translator, but her role is fairly murky. She seemed to act more as an additional police investigator or private investigator instead of a lawyer.
Last Rituals reminded me a bit of Elly Griffiths: a non-traditional main character, lots of folklore and history in the background, and a modern murder, yes. There was a lot of background exposition, but the writing felt brisk to me: I didn’t mind the backstory of the odd historical studies of the deceased, and the black magic and witchhunt portions of the story didn’t seem to be exploitative. Thora and Michael seemed pretty dispassionate about the kind of person the deceased was, and I think that was because the actual murder was so gruesome. I’m interested in seeing where this series goes.
I bought my copy of the book.