Thursday, 20 June 2013

ASA LARSSON - THE SAVAGE ALTAR


Synopsis/blurb.........

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, whose brother has been horrifically murdered in the revivalist church his charisma helped create. Beautiful and fragile, Sanna needs someone like Rebecka to remove the shadow of guilt that is engulfing her, to forestall an ambitious prosecutor and a dogged policewoman. But to help her friend, and to find the real killer of a man she once adored and is now not sure she ever knew, Rebecka must relive the darkness she left behind in Kiruna, delve into a sordid conspiracy of deceit, and confront a killer whose motives are dark, wrenching, and impossible to guess...

Well this was my first taste of another new female author and was my chosen Scandinavian read for the current month. I enjoyed it, though the first part of the book was a bit of a slog. If I’m truthful, I think this is more down to me rather than the author, particularly as the last 160-odd pages only took me a day to cover, as I became more absorbed in the story.   

On a personal level, my reading mojo appears to have deserted me this month. I‘m less driven to read at the minute and more easily distracted, tiredness seems to have over-taken me and whilst I will try and keep at it and read more this month, at the minute is seems to be less of a pleasure and more of a chore. I’m not beating myself up over it and I think I will give myself this month off from all my series reads and choose a bit more randomly for the last half of the month, with the hope of recapturing the elusive feel good factor. I sometimes think that by structuring my reading so rigidly eg next Block, next Crais, next Collins, next Scandinavian, I’ve limited my options and removed too much spontaneity from my selections.

Anyway, back to Larsson’s book........I was interested in and liked the main character Rebecka, whose admirable loyalty towards Sanna was abused and taken advantage of. Intelligent and tenacious, she was brave enough to confront her past and face her demons in an effort to uncover the motive for Viktor’s death; believing her friend innocent of the crime.

Larsson’s other characters were engaging and believable; especially Rebecka’s friend Sivving and the two police officers involved in the case. There was the token officious jobs-worth in the form of the prosecutor, but on the whole the characters were convincing.

Overall, I found it fast-paced and enjoyable with a satisfying conclusion. I’m in two minds whether I will be back for further Martinsson books, mainly because I need to read some of the many already waiting for me. The others are:

2. The Blood Spilt (2007)

3. The Black Path (2008)

4. Until Thy Wrath be Past (2011)

It might be worth noting that this has been published elsewhere under the title Sun Storm.

4 stars from 5

I’m unsure where or when I acquired my copy.

                         

12 comments:

  1. Col - Oh, it is so good to hear you liked this one. Of course I'm quite biased, as I am a Larsson fan. I highly recommend the rest of the series, 'though I know exactly what it's like to have too much to read and not enough time.

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    1. Margot thanks, yes really enjoyable, but I'm not in a mad rush to try more, just yet! I have avoided looking at the further series books, just in case I'm swayed though!

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  2. I'm a big fan of Asa Larsson so of course would suggest you do try more eventually - but we all look for different things in our reading so can understand if she is not for you.

    I hardly ever structure my reading - apart from when I have to read titles for the judging panel I'm on but thankfully that is over for this year - so I support your plan to be more random in your choices - just go where your mood takes you and hopefully your mojo will return pronto

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    1. Cheers Bernadette. If I see another Larsson when I'm out and about browsing I know I will probably be tempted and if it's the 3rd or 4th, then I'm going to have to find the 2nd!
      I think it's sound advise to acquire more randomness, hopefully the back end of this month ends on a high and the lethargy goes.

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  3. The Asa Larsson series sounds like something I will want to try, eventually.

    I know what you mean about losing spontaneity in your reading. I joined so many challenges this year, I either have to stick strictly to the challenge reading or give up on some of them. Will probably hit the middle road somewhere. And not challenge myself so much next year.

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    1. Tracy, you'd probably enjoy her I reckon.

      I'm asking myself which series I can drop, as my challenges only really account for 2 books a month, plus I have 1 more from a reading group on Goodreads. The thing is I'm actually enjoying the series on the whole, I might just be having an off-spell.
      I like the sound of a US state challenge, though I'll wait until next year I reckon, and maybe give myself a couple of years to complete.

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  4. I get months like that Col, I wouldn't worry too much about it. I'm a big fan of Asa Larsson. Sorry you didn't enjoy it as much.

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    1. Thanks Sarah, Hopefully my mojo returns soon! The series might be a grower, but the first didn't have me bashing down the walls to get to the next, though I did enjoy it overall.

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  5. Glad you read it, Col. I enjoyed her last one a lot, Until Thy Wrath Be Past. Her best book I think. She has the potential and will be huge someday. Sorry this one wasn't what you had hoped but four stars is still good in my book. Hope your reading mood improves whenever you decide to read another one of her books (hahaha). Take care.

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    1. Keishon thanks, I did enjoy it overall but I'm just not yet sold on anymore; so there was something indefinable that was missing for me, I'm not sure what. If I do try her again, I'll make sure I've taken my happy pills first!

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  6. I know what you mean about not being in the mood sometimes - I think you have to refresh your palate sometimes with soemthing completely different before going back to your intended list. I have a few books that I reread when nothing else seems right (my desert island books), or else I like a straightforward old-fashioned murder mystery before I'm ready for something more complex again. I haven't read this book but maybe one day...

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    1. Moira thanks. I can recall having spells like this before and I'll soon snap out of it. Maybe a Danny King will do the trick! It's been a few years.....

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