Amanda's Reviews > Sacrifice

Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton
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Apr 30, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: mystery
Read from April 25 to 28, 2011

SJ Bolton has just been added to my list of favorite authors!

Sacrifice was my second novel by Bolton; I first discovered this British author with her second novel Awakening—a unique and sharply-written mystery focused around a unexplained exotic snake epidemic in a small Dorset community. Sacrifice, her debut novel, is every bit as dark and compelling with a page-turning plot combining local Scottish lore with the accidental discovery of a murdered woman possessing Norse runes carved into her flesh.

Bolton has a real gift for creating strong, intelligent, courageous and gutsy female protagonists like Tora Hamilton, an obstetrician recently relocated to her husband’s family home in the Shetland Islands. During the burial of her horse, Tora accidentally digs up the body of a woman on her land. The gruesome evidence of torture and later discovery of the victim’s pregnancy and subsequent missing baby prompt Tora’s obsession with tracking down the woman’s identity. Despite caution from family, friends and coworkers, Tora stubbornly involves herself in the police investigation, bringing her to the forefront of Shetland Islands’ dark legacy of secrets. What follows is a suspenseful and carefully-crafted mystery layered with clues that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. As Tora perseveres despite an attempt on her life, the mystery delves into the chilling discovery of a three-year recurrence of murdered pregnant women and their missing babies.

The story does an excellent job of blending Scottish legend with modern criminal procedure as Tora uses her medical knowledge to unveil a twisted conspiracy that will keep readers guessing until the very end. Secondary characters include Tora’s new boss and Medical Director Kenn Gifford whose attraction to Tora and mysterious background creates tension with her husband Duncan Guthrie, while Inspectors Dana Tulloch and Andy Dunn round out the strong cast and feature heavily into this fast-paced psychological thriller. Vibrant descriptions of Shetland Islands landscape make for a particularly lush setting that is almost a character in and of itself.

If you are a fan of tightly-woven, suspenseful mysterious then don’t miss this remarkable novel. After finishing Sacrifice, I immediately went online to order Bolton’s next novel and am eagerly looking forward to diving into another of her worlds.

Note to American readers: This novel is written in British English, but if you don't mind the distraction of spelling and use of Britishisma, you are in for an exciting read.
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