My soul to take, the follow-up to Yrsa Sigurdardottir's stunning debut novel Last rituals, is every bit as good as its predecessor. It has, undoubtedly, the most chilling opening chapter I've ever read, and completely hooks the reader from the very beginning. It also marks a welcome return of the good guys from Last rituals Thora, the Icelandic lawyer with a dysfunctional, but endearing family, and Matthew, the German ex-detective and Thora's would-be long-term lover.
As with Yrsa's previous novel My soul to take blends crime and superstition with a black humour that will have you on the edge of your seat one minute and howling with laughter the next. Thora, who is busy dealing with mundane matters in Reykjavik is summoned to the Icelandic countryside, when a client, Jonas, announces that he wishes to sue the vendors of the property he purchased for not informing him that it is haunted. Thora takes this with a very large pinch of salt, but looks forward to spending some time in luxury at Jonas's hotel. However her plans are turned upside down when the hotel's architect is brutally murdered, and Jonas comes under suspicion. Thora, and Matthew who's recently arrived from Germany, are thrown into the investigation, which turns out to be incredibly complex.
The author is brilliant at throwing red herrings copiously across the reader's path. The solution to the crime, and how Thora arrives at that solution, is very clever. There are a few anomalies, and perhaps one or two coincidences too many - but coincidences do happen. I so enjoyed this novel, my best new crime read this year. Cracking story, well-told, with great flashes of humour. 4 stars.