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My Soul to Take: A Novel of Iceland    by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir order for
My Soul to Take
by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Anyone who has lived in or visited Iceland as I have knows that it is a country with a 'unique history, culture and starkly beautiful landscape' as was previously noted by a reviewer writing in USA Today in response to Yrsa Sigurdardóttir's first crime thriller, Last Rituals.

Now, in the Icelandic author's second novel featuring the lawyer Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, readers are presented with a perversely gothic tale within that 'starkly beautiful landscape' in which murderous secrets from more than fifty years earlier inflict horror and havoc on a resort hotel on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

When the highly recommended novel begins and before readers join Thóra at her legal practice in Reykjavík in 2006, an innocent and prayerful four-year old girl in 1945 trusts a man when he tells her she will soon be reunited with her absent mother. The grim terror of that reunion sets the ominous tone for all that follows in My Soul to Take.

Then, as Yrsa Sigurdardóttir's disturbing thriller moves ahead, Thóra receives a phone call from one of her clients, Jónas, a New Age entrepreneur and resort hotel developer. He complains that his recently purchased property has problems, and he wants Thóra to take action against the previous owners who, according to Jónas, failed to disclose serious problems with the property. What are the problems, Thóra asks, and she is surprised when Jónas says, 'The place is haunted.'

Skeptical, of course, but solicitous of her client, the sleuthing lawyer travels from Reykjavík to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, and there, joined by her romantic interest from Germany, she finds herself drawn into a spectral mystery from the past in which dangers, horrors, and murders in contemporary Iceland add up to a first class, old-fashioned whodunit.

Readers in North America are already familiar with Arnaldur Indridason, another of Iceland's superb writers of crime mysteries and one of my personal favorites, but Yrsa Sigurdardóttir proves in My Soul to Take that she is a serious competitor for the title of Best Crime Fiction Writer in Iceland.

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