Bolton, S.J. Sacrifice.
Recommended by Danielle (along with Blood Harvest which I now have on my Kindle), Sacrifice is Bolton's debut novel.
Set in the Shetland Islands amidst the atmosphere of the land and its mythic legends, Sacrifice opens with Tora Hamilton, a recent transplant to the island, attempting to manage the hydraulics of a digging machine to excavate a hole deep enough to bury her horse. In the course of her efforts to bury her beloved horse, she uncovers the body of a young woman buried (and preserved) in the peat.
Worse than this discovery is the realization that the woman had recently born a child and that her body was mutilated. An obstetrician who desperately wants to have a baby herself, Tora is horrified. She notifies the police, who initially want to classify the body as ancient remains, but Tora knows that it isn't the case.
Her husband was born and raised on the island, but until their move 6 months previously, has been away for 20 years. When the investigation into the identity of the dead woman doesn't fully satisfy Tora, she disregards her husband's advice to let it go and teams up with the policewoman Dana Tulloch to find out more.
Tora and Dana's relationship is a bit touchy, but with every authority (Tora's husband, the head of Tora's hospital, and Dana's boss) wanting to move on, the two women rely on each other as they search for answers. As events get even stranger and more threatening, Dana and Tora find themselves counting on each other more and more.
The first 2/3's of the book kept me enthralled and curious, and I was impressed by Bolton's ability to develop the suspense as Tora and Dana try to get around the conspiracy of silence.
The last third of the book was less satisfying and got a bit far-fetched with a few of the threads, but Bolton still manages to keep the reader off balance.
Even though the concluding section felt less well-plotted, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading more from S. J. Bolton!
Fiction. Mystery. 2008. 375 pages.