Minotaur, ISBN 978-0312381134
May 27, 2008, 384 pages
"Moving to remote Shetland has been unsettling enough for consultant surgeon Tora Hamilton, even before the gruesome discovery she makes one rain-drenched Sunday afternoon... Deep in the peat soil of her field she's shocked to find the perfectly preserved body of a young woman, a gaping hole in her chest where her heart has been brutally removed.
Three rune marks etched into the woman's skin bear an eerie resemblance to carvings Tora has seen all over the islands: in homes she has visited, even around a fireplace in her own cellar. But, as she uncovers disturbing links to an ancient Shetland legend, the police, her smooth-talking boss and even her own husband are at pains to persuade her to leave well alone. Is their concern genuine? Perhaps, for when terrifying threats start rolling in like the cold island mists, it seems someone wants Tora out of the picture, once and for all...
Sacrifice will grip readers from start to finish. It is a bone-chilling, spellbinding debut set on a deceptively beautiful island."
I am a fan of S.J. Bolton's books, especially her DC Lacey Flint series. Lacey Flint is one excellent character, certainly not your average London copper. But in addition to the Flint series, Bolton has also written a great standalone or two. Somehow it seems I missed her first book, Sacrifice. Happily, a recently corrected that and I am very happy I did, because I think it is a great book, one I totally enjoyed.
Yes, it is set in the Shetland Islands, a setting I have been very partial to since reading Anne Cleeves excellent Shetland Island quartet. It is a wild and rugged place with a mysterious, legend filled past, perfect for a rather creepy plot. And this book has a very good and not a little creepy plot.
This book is also full of great characters, first among them a great, strong female protagonist in Dr. Tora Hamilton. She is smart and brave, lonely and very bad with people, totally in love with her husband but not beyond believing he may be part of something very evil going on in the Shetlands. In short, she is very believable. But she is not the only great characters..this books is full of them, including a great policewoman who will reappear in some of Bolton's future books.
OK, yes, the plot is maybe a bit over the top, something that usually bothers me. Just read my review from yesterday if you don't believes me. But here, it seems totally right and believable somehow. Part of that may be because of the setting, with tales of gray men living under the bridges and a violent and nasty past..and maybe a rather nasty present as well. It seems reasonable and I was totally happy to go along for what is an exciting ride, just like Tora dashing ride on her horse, across the moors in the dead of night to escape those who would do her in. Hold on to those reins!
A very good debut, from an author with several more very entertaining books to her name since then. So, when you finish this one, you have four more novels, a novella and a new book coming out in June in the US to await you. Let me tell you, I read a brief preview of the beginning of the new book, Lost, and all I can say is "Wow!"