Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Soul to Take, by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir ($13.99) (c 2009)

Thóra Gundmundsdóttir is an attorney, single mother, and Reykjavík, Iceland's version of Kinsey Millhone. Unlike the other Scandinavian mysteries that have erupted into the American market in the years since "The Girl Who" series, Sigurdardóttir's series has a sense of humor. For the most part, when she's not dodging her kids or brushing them off on her sometime boyfriend, Matthew Reich, Thóra is a good mother. When she's not dodging or brushing off Bella, her awful secretary, instead of facing her down, Thóra is a good attorney.

It is one of Thóra's clients, Jónas, the owner of a spa located in a foggy, desolate, mystical area on the coast, who needs her help when he is involved in the murder of Birna, his part-time paramour and  architect. As in "Last Rituals," the first book in the series, there are Icelandic myths and potential paranormal activities laced throughout the story.

In order to help Jónas, Thóra breaks into the victim's room, steals a diary, barges into homes, verbally attacks suspects and witnesses, lies, and generally engages in pretty sketchy unlawyer-like behavior. Yet, I find the character of Thóra strangely compelling and attractive.

I found some parts of the story a little muddled but wasn't sufficiently disturbed to stop reading. In general, I liked the hunt for clues and the ultimate solution, once the red herrings were sloughed off.

It's Thóra's personal story that adds considerably to the series. The side story of Thóra's 16-year-old son and his pregnant girlfriend was human, funny, and sad. Her ex-husband is a dunderheaded lummox. It's her battles to remain upright when everything is tilting against her that should put readers on her side.

(Readers who do not like stories of children in danger should give this a pass, as it begins with a heart-wrenching story of a little girl in jeopardy.)

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