(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Although her husband was reared in Unst, 33-year-old Tora Hamilton is a stranger to the remote, weather-beaten Shetland Islands. She is still getting used to Lerwick, her new hometown, when she comes across a dead body buried on the property she and Duncan recently purchased from a trust associated with the church. At first, she assumes it's one of the infamous bog bodies—a Stone Age corpse perfectly preserved by the peat. The post-mortem reveals the truth; not only is the body that of a recently deceased woman, but the victim had her heart cut out. A few days after giving birth.
It's this last bit that Tora—an obstetrician who has been trying to get pregnant since she married Duncan five years ago—can't let go of. Why would someone murder a new mother? And so savagely? What are they to make of the runes carved into her body? Was this a ritualistic killing? Or something even more sinister? Obsessed with finding the truth, Tora digs deeply into Shetland folklore and local secrets to solve the mystery. Everyone warns her to back off, but she refuses to listen. Even when it becomes apparent that someone will do anything—anything—to silence her.
I became aware of Sharon (S.J.) Bolton because of her latest book, Little Black Lies. After being completely blown away by it, I knew I had to read every novel the author had ever published. So I did. Sacrifice is Bolton's first novel and it's interesting to compare and contrast it with Little Black Lies. The former is just as atmospheric, just as unsettling, just as compelling. It's less sophisticated in some ways, but no less enticing. With a brave, admirable heroine guiding the story, it's absolutely impossible to look away. Just like Little Black Lies (which happens to be my favorite Bolton mystery), Sacrifice is a dark, twisty suspense novel that will keep you turning pages until the wee hours of the morning. Trust me on this—you don't want to start Sacrifice (or any Bolton book for that matter) unless you have all day to inhale it because once you begin reading, you won't be able to stop. Did I mention that I binge-read all of her books in a matter of days just so I could get on with my life? Well, I did. Bolton's mysteries are that addicting. Consider yourself warned.
(Readalikes: Reminds me a bit of Peter May's Shetland trilogy [The Blackhouse; The Lewis Man; and The Chessmen]; also of Ann Cleeves' Shetland mysteries [Raven Black; White Nights; Red Bones; Blue Lightning; Dead Water; Thin Air; and Cold Earth])
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language (a dozen or so F-bombs plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, mild sexual content, and disturbing content
To the FTC, with love: Another library