Out of the ashes

Bookhounders will know that I'm a big fan of Yrsa Sigurdardottir, in fact the only book I haven't read in the Thora Gudmannsdottir series is the third - Ashes to Dust. So it's time to catch up with it...

Thora, the likeable Reykjavik solicitor, ends up taking on a rather bigger case than she'd anticipated when she goes to the Westman Islands. A client has asked for her help as an archaeological dig is about to uncover the "Pompeii of the North"  - many of the houses that were buried by a volcanic eruption in 1973. What appears to be a rather eccentric opposition to digging up his childhood home, turns out to be rather more sinister when three bodies and a head appear in the long-buried basement. The case becomes even more complicated when an apparent recent suicide becomes linked to the unidentified bodies, and Thora's client.

As always with Yrsa, it's a dark compelling tale, with a twist of black humour. The relationship between Thora and her grumpy secretary, the seriously scary Bella, is developed, and this adds to the enjoyment of the tale for Thora fans. It's not, I think, the best of the series. It's not as well plotted (though it has its moments), and it's not as strong a tale, there are a few holes in the plot, and some unlikely events. What I did find hugely fascinating though, was the historical tale of the events of the eruption, and the evacuation of the islands. That in itself was compelling.

Yrsa Sigurdardottir has a great sense of place, and Iceland is always central to the plots, never more so, and perfectly so, as here. If you're coming new to the Thora series, I wouldn't advise you to start here, but nevertheless it's an enjoyable, if dark, tale and a worthy member of the canon. Essential for any fans.


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