Leighton Gage's Reviews > Ashes to Dust

Ashes to Dust by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
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's review
Dec 16, 2011

it was amazing
Read in November, 2011

On the 23rd of January, 1973, a volcanic eruption struck Heimaey, the only populated island of Iceland’s Westman Archipelago. The population, almost 5,000 people, was evacuated without the loss of a single human life, but almost a third of the village was covered by a thick layer of lava and ash.
In June of 2005, an archeological dig began with the objective of uncovering some of the 400 homes and buildings buried for more than three decades.
Yrsa Sigurdardottir lays the foundations of Ashes to Dust, her third novel to feature engaging Reyykjavik attorney, Thóra Gudmundsdottir, with these facts.
And then goes on to invent a macabre discovery in the cellar of one of the houses being excavated. Multiple murders have been committed, and in one case, severe mutilation of one of the victims.
It’s quickly determined that the dead aren’t islanders, and that their deaths took place at the time of the eruption.
Who are they? Who killed them?
The police don’t know, but they have good reason to suspect Markús Magnusson, Thóra’s client. And then Magnusson’s life is further complicated by the murder, back in Reykjavik, of his childhood sweetheart.
For which crime, too, he comes under suspicion.
I don’t think I’ll be giving away too much if I tell you that Markús is innocent.
As to who’s guilty, here’s an extract from the last page of the book:
“And who was the bad guy?” (Thóra’s) daughter asked eagerly. In her simple, childish world, criminals were easy to spot, like Robbie Rotten or the Beagle Boys in the books Thóra read to her.
“It was the one that I thought was the good guy,” replied Thóra…
Sigurdardottir’s latest book takes the form of a complex, intriguing puzzle Thóra won’t be able to solve until the very end.
But it’s more than just a mystery. Fans of the series are going to enjoy catching up on the continuing exploits of Bella, Thóra’s disagreeable secretary, and how the lawyer’s love affair with Matthew, her German boyfriend, is progressing.
Ashes to Dust is, if anything, even better than Sigurdardottir’s previous novels. And that is no mean trick, because both Last Rituals and My Soul to Take are seriously good books.

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