‘The Savage Altar’ by Asa Larsson

My Review (5 stars out of 5)

On the floor of a church in the frozen wastes of northern Sweden, a body lies oozing blood. Stabbed, slashed and with its eyes gouged out, the gruesome discovery will leave church members and the local community horrified. On discovering the murder, the victim’s sister quicky becomes the prime suspect for the police. In need of a friend, she contacts her childhood pal – now top city lawyer – Rebecka Martinsson. But Rebecka’s memories of their friendship soon begin to colour her view of the investigation.

This is the first book in Asa Larsson’s Rebecka Martinsson series and the first I’ve read of this author’s work. The opening pages were enough to grab my attention and I eagerly dived in and read the book over a few days. With any translated story the translation can sometimes let it down and while for the most part the writing is of a high standard, there are a few gaffs in the eBook version I bought. Odd words, such as off end (offend) and im patient (impatient) are distracting and the text itself isn’t properly formatted. While this isn’t a big deal, it does give the book a slightly amateurish feel.

That said, The Savage Altar is a terrific read and the occupation of the heroine (a tax lawyer) gives the whole thing a different twist to the typical cop/investigator type tale. Larsson is a clever and witty storyteller, and the flashback sections have the effect of giving the book the sense of a slowly unfolding puzzle that gradually lets the reader into the secrets and lies hidden behind some of the supposedly upstanding members of the community.

An impressive first novel that mystifies and excites at every turn.

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