St. Martin's, Jun 2008, $24.95
Excited but a bit apprehensive obstetrician Dr. Tora Hamilton leaves London with her husband Duncan Guthrie, to open up a practice near his hometown on the Shetland Islands. When her horse dies, Tora starts to dig a grave to bury her steed. However, her shoveling uncovers the corpse of a young woman. Runes are etched onto the victim’s back and her heart ripped from her chest.
The autopsy also reveals the woman recently gave birth. Unable to resist Tora investigates trying to learn who the woman is, what happened to the child, why this seemingly ritual homicide, and by whom. No one cooperates not even her spouse, who warns her to back off from her inquires. As she gets closer to the truth, Tora becomes frightened that she could be next victim and begins to trust no one especially Duncan.
This is a deep amateur sleuth with local mythos and a hint of the supernatural making for a compelling tale that is mindful in many ways of the 1973 version of The Wicker Man especially as Tora begins to uncover the motive. Readers will be spellbound by the islanders who resent the outsider’s inquiries into their lives and belief system. Vivid in detail including some stomach turning sequences, SACRIFICE is definitely not a sacrifice to read as SJ Bolton provides a powerful look at the essence of inhumanity, which humanity would insist is pure evil.