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The Savage Altar

(Rebecka Martinsson #1)

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  12,472 ratings  ·  925 reviews

A church in the glittering frozen wastes of northern Sweden. Inside, a sacrifice: the body of a man - slashed to pieces, hands severed, eyes gouged out.

The victim's sister, Sanna, is first to discover the body and immediately finds herself the police's only suspect. Terrified and confused, she calls on a friend: got-shot city lawyer Rebecka Martinsson.

Rebecka hardly wants

Kindle Edition, 420 pages
Published February 7th 2008 by Penguin (first published 2003)
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Helen Frances The plot line on Amazon for both titles say it is the first Rebecka Martinsson book. May have a different titles for different markets.
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Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,472 ratings  ·  925 reviews

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I needed to find a first-in-a-series book to read and had a hankering to read a crime novel. Having not previously read a Scandinavian crime book, I thought this was as good a time as any to give one a try. The thought of some astonishing landscape thrown into the mix appealed to me as well. I grabbed Sun Storm since it was readily available and I was happily entertained.

"The Aurora Borealis twists and turns like a dragon in the night sky. Stars and planets are compelled to give way to her, this
Jan 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been on a Scandinavian writers' kick since I read and fell hard for 'Out Stealing Horses,' by Per Petterson last August. After reading all three of Petterson's books, (reviewing so far only the first,) I turned to the genre which Nordic writers seem to dominate these days---the suspense novel. A recent trip to Iceland prompted me to pick up first 'Voices,' by Arnaldur Indridason, which I intend later to write about, but will just say for now that it is a subject on which I am emphatically ...more
Jul 20, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe the high ratings. I am so disappointed by this. It's extremely bad written, and 80% of the book is just uninteresting. The ending was laughable at least. No one would believe that.

I absolutely hated all the characters with no exception. All of them were flat and unrealistic. And I dunno why they are swearing all the single time. I found them to be rude, unpolite, and disgusting.

Especially hated Rebecka and Sanna. Rebecka was extremely annoying as a main character. She doesn't
Fred Shaw
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sun Storm by Asa Larsson, audiobook version.

A popular young priest is brutally murdered in his church in northern Sweden, and his sister who found the body is accused. Sanna Strandgord turns to her friend, attorney Rebecca Martinsson for help. Martinsson is a tax attorney and has no experience with high profile murder investigations. But Rebecca is smart and tough and goes to work.

To say this is a thriller would be putting it mildly. The characters are well developed and our heroine is
Rachel Hall
3.5 stars

After encountering the feisty Rebecka Martinsson in the fifth outing of this series and enjoying it immensely, it is interesting to see how Åsa Larsson's writing has acquired a certain polish as this series has progressed. At times I felt like the narrative in this first outing was a little awkward, the character of Rebecka Martinsson still carving out a role and personality for herself, whilst also being faced with the unenviable task of returning to a childhood home that she was
Paul Secor
A fairly standard Swedish mystery. Nothing more - nothing less.
Black Dog Reviews
Reading Swedish crime fiction makes me wonder: is Sweden really so full of murder and evilness? Or do the dark, cold winter days and nights encourage sinister novels focused on the dark area of the human psyche?

Sun Storm, winner of Sweden’s Best First Crime Novel Award, deals with religion, hypocrisy, abuse, mental illness, and perhaps redemption over the course of the story. It’s setting of Kiruna, the northernmost city in Sweden, is important. Its remoteness and isolation are integral to the
There probably is a bit too much exposition. But if you can't remember when you last got more than about 5 hours sleep, that is, frankly, absolutely fine. You'd miss anything more subtle. Unless, possibly, you're the ghost of Maggie Thatcher.

Can't put my finger on why, but I found this a little more clumsy and infodumping than Anne Holt. This one, in fairness, is a first novel and I've only read Holt's later books.

The crime is a typically bizarre and fantastical event - the murder and
Jul 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scandinavian, 2010
I had to return this to the library once because I had checked it out for so long. I got laid off and suddenly found myself with more time... and thought a Fourth of July holiday at the beach was the most appropriate time to start a murder mystery set in the north of Sweden in the darkest, coldest parts of winter.

Really liked the two main characters of this mystery. Rebecca Martinson is a likable lawyer who works too hard and tries too diligently to distance herself from her small town past in
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark as the usual Scandinavian, but somehow this one has superior characterizations to more than equal the gritty. This new author is starting well with Sven-Erik, Rebecka, and Anna-Maria. Northern Sweden and the aurora borealis dance and flicker throughout. Yes, the characters are all considerably flawed and some not at all likeable. Not a cozy.
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is it with these Nordic writers? I've read Steig Larsson's 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Jussi Adler-Olsen's 'The Keeper of Lost Causes,' and now, 'Sun Storm,' by Asa Larsson. They really have quite a flair for building a suspenseful story with characters who are intriguing, flawed, and intensely credible. Although, I haven't felt compelled to pick up the sequels to 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,' I enjoyed Steig Larsson's style of writing. 'The Keeper of Lost Causes,' and 'Sun Storm,' have ...more
Sep 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting, if somewhat disjointed story. I had a hard time putting all the pieces together, and I'm a great fan of mysteries/thrillers written by Scandinavian writers. This one was set in Sweden.

Rebecka Martinsson is a tax lawyer who gets caught up in the defense of a young woman accused of her brother's murder. Said brother was one of those flamboyant, religious celebrities who act as 'lighthouses' for their newly created/discovered religion, one which purports to being the only 'true'
Bev Taylor
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
in a church in northern sweden a man is found brutally murdered - eyes gouged out, hands amputated and stabbed

this is the hero of the new church and is found by his sister and naturally she is a suspect. panicked she calls on rebecka her friend, who is also a lawyer but not a criminal one

she has no wish to return as it as the town has bad memories for her and she is not close to sanna who is not right mentally and also has 2 daughters

she is not especially welcomed into the close knit
There is a brutal murder in the first page. Then there is a lot of background into Rebecka Martinsson, a big city lawyer who returns to her remote home town of Kiruna to help the sister of the murder victim. There is also a lot of other background, I guess to fill in the characters who will be in the rest of the series. It is only in the second half of the book that the actual crime is featured which cumulates in a bloody ending. The main message is don't mess with Rebecka.
Manoela Padilh
Aug 09, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After the boom that was Stieg Larsson's trilogy, several Nordic authors began to gain knowledge in the international literary world. Åsa Larsson came in their midst, and with the good fortune to have the same surname as the master, compared with it in style and story. Good luck, I say, because if I knew how it was that book wouldn’t even started it.

The main character is Rebecka Martinsson, a tax attorney from a firm in Stockholm. And by that I mean: an annoying girl who always seems to be a
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, l
On the floor of a church in northern Sweden, the body of a man lies mutilated and defiled - and in the night sky, the aurora borealis dances as the snow begins to fall....So begins Ãsa Larsson's spellbinding thriller, winner of Sweden's Best First Crime Novel Award and an international literary sensation.

Rebecka Martinsson is heading home to Kiruna, the town she'd left in disgrace years before. A Stockholm attorney, Rebecka has a good reason to return: her friend Sanna,
Larsson's writing and language is a cut above most other Swedish mystery writers. The main character Rebecca Martinsson returns to her home town, a rural village. It is a place she has visited infrequently in the past 10 years and as the story unfolds,we find out her reasons. This small town has become well known for an evangelical mega-church which lies at the center of the murder and the unfolding mystery. The writing kept me turning pages. At time I had some difficulty keeping the characters ...more
Diana Ramos
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although it was weird at first (I never read a book written by a Swedish author) I soon found myself entailed into the story. Rebecka was a very complex character and I loved that. Looking forward to read more from the series!
This is the first book of Rebecka Martinsson series.

Even if I liked it, there are some missing clues, such as: what happened with the kidnaped dog?? Moreover, the role as an attorney is not so well assigned to the main character.
Kathy Davie
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
First in the Rebecka Martinsson mystery series and revolving around a Stockholm lawyer in a personal crisis.

It won the 2003 Swedish Crime Writers’ Association Prize for best debut novel.

My Take
It starts out very spookily as we read of the victim calmly embracing his death, and Larsson builds the tension with hints of past troubles, of religious issues, and parental abuse.

There's a past here, a history that Rebecka has with the church. I'll admit to a prejudice against organized religion, so that
Åsa Larsson's debut novel, Sun Storm won Sweden's prize for best first crime novel--quite a distinction, if you consider how many excellent specimens come out of that country every year. It was perhaps this fact, and not the macabre plot description (or the fact that the heroine is a tax lawyer) that initially interested me in the novel. And I'm happy to say that all hyperbolic, hysteric plot devolutions aside (we'll get to these), this was a very enjoyable read.

Sun Storm has a lot going for it:
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another Goodreads recommendation from the ever impressive Nordic/Scandinavian writers, the first in a series featuring a character called Rebecka Martinsson, a Stockholm Attorney who left her small town life behind her under a cloud of ill-will, but is now called back by an old childhood friend called Sanna, when she is accused of murdering her brother. Viktor, is a preacher in an amalgamated church group and he has been murdered in a most brutal and horrific manner and found by his sister in ...more
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOW! I'm actually glad I read this one after the others: it's as if I'd met some people and knew a bit about them, and now we're sharing a bottle of wine, and I'm getting the detailed story about how it all began. Larsson's characters are so vivid, I keep thinking, I know that person, I know someone just like that! I love how the women have minds of their owns and don't react in a stereotypical way.

What I loved best was that Larsson doesn't need to explain everything as they do in some
Ellie M
Nov 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a relatively easy read Scandi-crime novel - short chapters, story that flowed throughout and a good introduction to a new crime solver. It was also very atmospheric with fab descriptions of the Aurora Borealis and the snow.

(I bought this book last Christmas for my husband and he enjoyed it as well. I bought it because, back in 2010, we went to Kiruna in Northern Sweden (in the Arctic Circle and Swedish Lappland) with the objective of seeing the Aurora Borealis. We were also there on
When the leader of a weird cult in Northern Sweden is killed in a ritualistic way, the primary suspect is the victim's sister. She calls a hot shot attorney who just happens to be an ex-member of the cult.

So we get the usual small town secrets. Not bad, but not a classic by any stretch.
3.25, for me. Set in Sweden, and tells of a church with leaders who are corrupted by power, sex, and money.
Mar 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scandinavian, crime
When she discovers the mutilated body of the revivalist preacher and her brother, Viktor, laid out in ritualistic style, on the floor of The Source of All Our Strength church, Sanna turns to her old friend Rebecka Martinsson for support. Despite her demanding work schedule as a Tax lawyer in a large law practice in Stockholm, and her reservations about her own past in connection with the church, Rebecka heads back to the small town and community to help.

The chief prosecutor on the case seems to
Feb 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
"Before Stieg Larsson, there was Asa Larsson...The Savage Altar is a truly absorbing, atmospheric and fast-paced thriller featuring lawyer Rebecka Martinsson, a fantastic character in the mould of The Silence of the Lambs' Clarice Starling."

Hang on a minute, let's not get carried away with publisher hyperbole. Yes, Asa came before Stieg and not just alphabetically, and yes this is definitely a fast paced thriller, indeed I would happily describe it is a real page turner that I struggled to put
Graeme Roberts
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great first crime book! I noticed some weaknesses, but I couldn't stop reading.
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Åsa Larsson is a Swedish crime-writer. Although born in Uppsala, she was raised in Kiruna in the far north. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Larsson was a tax lawyer, a profession she shares with the heroine of her novels, Rebecka Martinsson.

* Rebecka Martinsson

Other books in the series

Rebecka Martinsson (5 books)
  • The Blood Spilt (Rebecka Martinsson, #2)
  • The Black Path (Rebecka Martinsson, #3)
  • Until Thy Wrath be Past (Rebecka Martinsson, #4)
  • Till offer åt Molok (Rebecka Martinsson, #5)
“How can this dog be such an easy victim? A dog who was mistreated by her previous owner over and over again. Why doesn't she recognize evil when she runs straight into its arms? Because she has the ability to forget. Burrows down into the feathery snow and is pleased to see anyone who streches out a hand to her. And now she is lying here.” 5 likes
“Shake the tree. See what falls down.” 2 likes
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