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My Soul To Take: A Novel of Iceland

Set in Iceland, My Soul To Take centers around attorney and single mom Thóra, whose chaotic personal life gets even more complicated after a client is suspected of murder. A badly beaten body is found on the beach near her client's new age resort, shattering the peaceful idyll it is known for—or is it?

The deeper practical Thóra digs into local lore, the less she is sure that the place is not cursed. Are the ghosts of dead babies really crying outside her window at the resort? And how does one explain the Nazi memorabilia found in the building's basement? If this sounds like a plot line that is absurdly strung together—well, it is.

My Soul To Take is definitely a page-turner, and Sigurdardóttir is quite talented at creating suspense. However, as much as you want to find out what happens next, you can't help wondering a) if the story flow isn't a bit ridiculous at times and b) why, aside from Thóra, there is virtually no character development.

While the author does make attempts to flesh out a few side plots—among them, the fact that Thóra is becoming a grandmother before she's forty because of her teenage son's irresponsibility and the secret tragedies that one family harbors, largely because of mental illness that is never treated or discussed—the attempts seem half-hearted at best. Several characters who seem to have potential when they are introduced—such as Thóra's new boyfriend, Matthew, who has traveled from Germany to help her solve the case—are hardly given a second thought. Although it's mildly amusing that Matthew is essentially treated like a sex object, it's that much more unbelievable when Thóra muses to herself that she might be falling in love with him.

What's also disappointing is that although the book is touted as "a novel of Iceland," there is very little description of the country's beautiful landscape or local customs. That said, if you're looking for a quick read for a plane flight or long car ride, this might be a good choice. Sigurdardóttir reminded me of an Icelandic Sue Grafton.

Written by: M.L. Madison, August 29th 2009

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