Monday, November 26, 2007

What's on the shelf (recently)

If you're a mystery fan (and I wouldn't say I am... I mainly know Sherlock Holmes and the Cadfael books), you should browse through what's coming out of Iceland these days. Arnaldur Indriðason's series about police detective Erlendur (Voices, Jar City, and many others) have been winning over readers in translation, and now there is Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, a civil engineer who wrote Last Rituals, a mystery that delves into Iceland's history of witch hunts.

When I studied Icelandic history I was surprised to find that most of the people persecuted for witchcraft in that country were men, not women. I seem to recall it had something to do with the fact that witches were not permitted to own property, so if you got your neighbour accused of witchcraft you might just snag his land as well.

Anyway, Last Rituals is a great read. If you have been reading Björk Bjarnadóttir's folklore column in Lögberg-Heimskringla, some of the bizarre and morbid Icelandic folk beliefs the novel turns up won't come as a complete surprise...

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