Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ashes to Dust: A Thriller” as Want to Read:
Ashes to Dust: A Thriller
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Ashes to Dust: A Thriller (Þóra Guðmundsdóttir #3)

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  2,063 ratings  ·  228 reviews
In 1973, a volcanic eruption buried an entire Icelandic village in lava and ash. Now this macabre tourist attraction proves deadly once again—when the discovery of fresh bodies casts a shadow of suspicion onto Markús Magnússon, a man accused of killing his childhood sweetheart. His attorney Þóra Guðmundsdóttir finds that her client has a most inventive story to tell. But t ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2007)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ashes to Dust, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Ashes to Dust

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: In 1973, a volcanic eruption buried an entire Icelandic village in lava and ash. Now this macabre tourist attraction proves deadly once again—when the discovery of fresh bodies casts a shadow of suspicion onto Markús Magnússon, a man accused of killing his childhood sweetheart. His attorney Þóra Guðmundsdóttir finds that her client has a most inventive story to tell. But the locals seem oddly reluctant to back him up...

My Review: This is a dark, dark, dark
Sep 07, 2012 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
I’ve read a few Nordic-authored novels in the past year or two (although not the Steig Larsson series, yet.) I don’t intend any criticism but (and I am trying to dance around the fallacy of a sweeping generalization) they all share a certain “flavor”. It’s an atmosphere that seems to be ever-present in the background of the story. I can’t say its “gloom”, but it has that kind of overtone. “Ashes to Dust” also gave me that sensation.

Perhaps I am misunderstanding some commonality in murder and ho
Yrsa Sigurdardóttir's work reminds me of an Icelandic "delicacy" called hákarl, which consists of shark meat which is fermented for several months, sometimes underground, until the smell is strong enough to repel the most ravenous shorebirds with its ammoniac odor. I do not mean to imply that Ashes to Dust is as appetizing as road kill: It is just that its author has a tendency to go for the gamier edge of crime. That was also the case with her first book, Last Rituals. I was surprised to read t ...more
Cátia Santos
Três estrelas para um livro que, não sendo excecional, tem partes muito interessantes.

Para mim, que sou da área da geologia, interessou-me particularmente a parte da vulcanologia. O enredo é bem conseguido mas... O início é muito chato, parte da charada consegui adivinhá-la muito cedo e a outra parte, mesmo no final, pareceu demasiado forçada e com explicações incipientes.

As comparações com stieg larsson são, por isso, infundadas! ;) Ainda assim, lê-se bem!
Cristina Boncea
Este o carte groasă, pe care am citit-o destul de greu. Titlul se explică prin caracteristicile principale ale zonei în care are loc acțiunea, unde a avut loc o erupție vulcanică cu câțiva ani în urmă. Pot spune că această carte m-a dezamăgit oarecum, m-a lăsat cu ochii în soare dar partea bună este că la fel i s-a întâmplat și protagonistei, Thora Gudmundsdottir, pe care încă o ador.

Clientul ei, Markus, este cercetat pentru două crime diferite: uciderea a patru bărbați ale căror cadavre se afl
Toni Osborne
Book 3, in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series

I don’t know why I put this author on the back burner for such a long time. I had totally forgotten how wonderfully different Thora Gudmundsdottir, the protagonist is. Thora is a lawyer by profession who has a very unusual clientele and is the type to poke her nose into the investigating side of cases as well as defending her clients. If you haven’t read the previous installments don’t worry this one works pretty well as a standalone.

Although the book is
Thirty years after the volcanic eruption on Heimaey (the only populated island of Iceland's Westman Archipelago) the archeologists excavating the homes that had been buried in ash.....discovered three corpses and a discrete head, in the basement of a house belonging to one Markus Magnusson. Mr Magnusson enlists the help of his attorney, Thora Gudmundsdottir, whose lot in life seems to be the defense of eccentric clients. Markus, already a suspect in the death of a childhood friend, is also a mas ...more
This book started out capturing my attention in the prologue, then the book slowed way down. I didn't feel like the story line picked back up until I got into the late 100's. It just dragged. I barely learned that this is the 3rd in the series that follows this lawyor, Thora. I felt the book ended with some unanswered questions about this woman, but perhaps Yrsa is planning on writing a fourth and did it purposefully. There were a few characters I didn't feel Yrsa actually wrapped up their stori ...more
I would have liked this book better had it been shorter. It was snail paced for most of it and only picked up when there was about 50 pages remaining. This made the whole investigation absolutely stupid too, the heroine couldn't be any denser when it came to the simplest of things. As an example, one of the prime people in the plot has a bit of mysterious past - no one knows her whereabouts for a period of one year when she's a teenager. She says she's at one place, but really she's not. So, wha ...more
Althea Ann
I won this book through First Reads! Thank you Goodreads!

The description intrigued me, as it was described as appealing to fans of Stieg Larsson, and it both takes place in Iceland and is written by an Icelandic author.

I didn't find that the story was similar to Larsson's, either in theme or writing style. However, it did create a very strong sense of place - both in physical setting and the mentality of solving a crime in a very small country, where the number of people who know each other make
Rebecca Martin
I generally like these books that feature lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottir. The way her family duties tend to impinge on her ability to fulfill her duties makes this series unusual and refreshingly realistic. The plot (or multiple plot lines) in this book, though, were just not that interesting and they seemed to be brought together by main force, rather than in a way I could find believable.

The one character who stood out for me is Tinna, the girl who concentrates on "calories." What is missing is a
Book Giveaway & Review: We’re participating in the Charity Hopping Around the World Giveaway Hop, so it seems appropriate to have our giveaway be an international novel. Once you’ve read a novel by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, it becomes really apparent why she’s an award-winning author and is known as Iceland’s crime queen. Although she writes children’s books as well as crime novels for adults, it’s her noir crime series featuring attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir that has gotten her compared to Stieg ...more
Oh, I hate that I'm giving Ashes to Dust one star, because I really like Yrsa Sigurðardóttir! I enjoyed her previous two books in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series, and I'll read the next book in the series. That said, I just didn't like anything about Ashes to Dust!

For me the most disagreeable thing about this book was the way in which women were portrayed. Every woman (except maybe one) in this book was obsessed with appearance, whether that be physical appearance or social appearances. The auth
Thora is a lawyer in Iceland defending Markus, who owns a house where four bodies are found buried in ashes from a long ago volcanic eruption. Markus' best alibi is Alda, a nurse he has a crush on. Alda is inconveniently murdered, so it's up to Thora to prove Markus' innocence.

The book starts with an intriguing premise, but after a while I got bored with Thora's investigation. One of my problems (this is not the fault of the author) was I had a hard time keeping track of the characters with Ice
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Several things intrigued me about this book, primarily the Icelandic island setting where the original crimes took place. Thora Gudmundsdottir's tenacity and intelligence is admirable as she researches and interviews her way to the 'truth' in order to defend the accused, Markus. Some of the crimes were quite innovative - death by botox! Sigurdardottir brings Iceland alive with her writing.
I probably would have given this book 3 1/2 stars if possible. This is the third mystery by Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurdardottir translated to English. Thora, her main character --lawyer, divorced, mother of 2, grandmother to one and detective by necessity and circumstances is an believable and entertaining character. In this case she is trying to solve 2 murders, one in present day and one that occurred years ago during the eruption of a volcano on an island off of Iceland. I found this novel n ...more
Why is the protagonist(Thora) so obtuse? It seemed pretty obvious from about 1/3 of the way in why the men had been murdered in 1973 and why Alda had gone away and not returned. (No spoiler here - but it's something really, really obvious!)

However, the final denouement didn't seem to tie up with the rest of the story at all.

The failing in this series of books is that Thora is a lawyer, doesn't therefore have access to all the evidence, and conducts her investigations in a very implausible way. I
Parts of it were very well written - the interior monologue of the murder victim and the thought processes of Tinna, the anorexic girl, were gripping in a creepy way.

The history of the volcanic eruption in Iceland and the disruption that followed was interesting and it's kind of fun to find out more about Thora's work vs life challenges.

But the murders and the solving of them were clunky and pretty far fetched - the murder of Alda in particular was so convoluted that the final explanation was mo
This novel is #3 in the author's Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series and so I caused myself a bit of confusion because I had read the latest two. I always advise readers to tackle a series in order of publication if at all possible and in this case, things have moved on in Thora's life by the later two novels (so I had memories of events that hadn't yet happened).

The historic element of the story is based around a volcanic eruption which began on the eastern side of Heimaey in the Westman Islands on 23
Thora Gudmundsdottir is a lawyer brought in to defend Markus, a former Westerman Islands teenager, who returns to the Islands later in life to fulfil a promise to his teenage idol, Alda. Markus has been implicated in the murder of 4 men, whose bodies have been discovered in the partly excavated ruins of his family home, which was buried by the volcanic eruption on the Islands years before. As the investigation continues, Alda too is murdered by Botox injection at her home.

Thora has to work quick
Douglas Lord
Among 1973′s many historical watersheds was Miami defeating the Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII (completing the NFL’s first perfect season), Skylab launching, Spiro Agnew resigning, and volcanic cone Eldfell erupting off Iceland, burning 400 homes and burying hundreds more. Fast-forward 30 years; attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir (Ms. G) represents a client staunchly opposed to excavating the house he grew up in. Why? Maybe it’s something to do with the three bodies in the basement, dead for decades ...more


This story starts out slow, with important asides into Icelandic history and geology. The ending is an unexpected turnaround as Thóra Gudmundóttir sifts through clues on behalf of her client, who is charged with murder—twice. Small island life, like small town life, is revealed by what folks do and do not say. Loyalty is the standard, and not truth, Thóra finds.

She is a person who trusts her intuition and checks out the facts. Thóra can be at loggerheads with police investigators, but sh

Het verhaal speelt zich af in IJsland op de Westmanneilanden. Het ouderlijk huis van Mark Magnússon werd meer dan dertig jaar geleden bedolven bij een vulkaanuitbarsting. Tijdens opgravingen treft men er drie lijken en een afgehakt hoofd aan. Mark, die de opgravingen probeerde te voorkomen, is de hoofdverdachte. Wanneer ook zijn jeugdliefde wordt vermoord, begint de zaak er helemaal problematisch uit te zien. Bovendien is de plaatselijke bevolking niet geneigd hem te steunen. Hoofdpersoon in dit ...more
Great mystery!

Set in Iceland, with a bizarre crime scene created during the 1973 eruption of Heimaey, which includes three bodies and a head in a box, this is one of the most bizarre set-ups for a story I've ever read. Intriguing, intricate, and yet not a thread left dangling by the end of the book. A host of characters, all well-fleshed out. A storyline that reads true. And even a translation that's pretty well done. (Though it's obvious the translator was British, not American. The differences
This was a book selection from my library bookclub. I found it to be a pretty good mystery novel. I will read more from this author.
Another very good installation in the detecting career of Thora the intrepid lawyer. True to Sigurðardóttir's first two, this novel is also part travelogue and takes place in Heimey, an island just off the coast of Iceland which in 1973 was partly buried in an eruption (Fact).

Houses in Heimey are now being excavated for a "Pompeii of the North" exhibition (Fact) and a few corpses are discovered (Fiction). The locals eat disgusting food like half cooked eggs from the many bird colonies (Fact) an
Julie Lit
3.5/5 (Lu en anglais)

Roman policier d'une grande rigueur. On suit ici une nouvelle enquête de la sympathique avocate Thora Gudmunsdottir dans une affaire qui s'annonce banale et qui devient rapidement plus complexe que prévue. Ce sont les éruptions volcaniques de l'Eldfell (1973) qui sont au coeur de ce roman: entre des événements qui se sont déroulés en 1973, une mort suspecte bien contemporaine (dans le premier chapitre et c'est à donner le frisson), et un village engloutie sous la cendre, Tho
In ihrem dritten Fall verschlägt es Þóra Guðmundsdóttir (Dóra) auf die isländischen Westmännerinseln. Einige Häuser werden von Vulkanschlacke und Asche befreit und sollen zum Museum werden. Dabei werden in einem Haus drei Leichen und ein abgetrennter Kopf gefunden. Dóras Mandant Markús Magnússon, der versucht hatte, die Ausgrabungen in seinem Elternhaus zu verhindern, steht unter Mordverdacht, zumal auch noch seine Jugendliebe Alda ermordet aufgefunden wird. Dóra gräbt tief in der Vergangenheit ...more
4,5 Sterne

Spannend, mit vielen Verwicklungen und mit sehr überraschender Auflösung. Was mir diesmal etwas gefehlt hat, war die mystische Komponente, die sonst stets in den Krimis der Autorin miteingeflochten ist. Dennoch war es fesselnd und in Nullkommanix durchgelesen. Noch ein Dora-Krimi auf dem Sub, dann habe ich alle Bücher von Sigurdardottir durch. Hoffentlich schreibt sie noch fleißig weiter!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Outrage (Inspector Erlendur #9)
  • Night Rounds (Inspector Huss #2)
  • Helsinki White (Inspector Kari Vaara, #3)
  • House of Evidence
  • Frozen Assets (Officer Gunnhilder, #1)
  • Where the Shadows Lie (Fire & Ice, #1)
  • Dregs (William Wisting #6)
  • The Demon of Dakar (Ann Lindell, #7)
  • Burned (Henning Juul #1)
  • Till offer åt Molok (Rebecka Martinsson, #5)
  • Blessed Are Those Who Thirst (Hanne Wilhelmsen #2)
  • Midvinterblod
Yrsa Sigurðardóttir is an Icelandic writer, of both crime-novels and children's fiction. She has been writing since 1998. Her début crime-novel was translated into English by Bernard Scudder.

Yrsa Sigurðardóttir graduated from high-school in 1983, finished a B.Sc. in civil engineering from the University of Iceland in 1988 and M.Sc in the same field from Concordia University in Montreal in 1997.

More about Yrsa Sigurðardóttir...

Other Books in the Series

Þóra Guðmundsdóttir (6 books)
  • Last Rituals (Þóra Guðmundsdóttir, #1)
  • My Soul to Take (Þóra Guðmundsdóttir, #2)
  • The Day is Dark (Þóra Guðmundsdóttir, #4)
  • Someone to Watch Over Me: A Thriller (Þóra Guðmundsdóttir, #5)
  • Brakið (Þóra Guðmundsdóttir, #6)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »