Thursday, April 12, 2012

Third Sentence Thursday: ASHES TO DUST

From the Proud Brook Nerd,  here are the rules: "take the book you are currently reading and post the third sentence of the third chapter. Feel free to share one or two of the following sentences, if you’d like." I'm reading Yrsa Sigurdardottir's ASHES TO DUST.

The third of the third (and the two previous): 

Some days in Thóra’s life were slightly worse than others; on a bad day, for example, she would need to stop on her way to work to go back and turn off the coffeemaker, or she’d get a call from the school asking her to fetch her daughter Sóley, who had got a bloody nose at break time. Other days were even worse: bills were overdue and the cash machine was broken, petrol got pumped into the family car which ran on diesel, and so on. On those days nothing went as it should, neither at home nor at the office. 

This is the 4th novel in Sigurdardottir's thriller series featuring Thóra Gudmundsdóttir.Thóra is an Icelandic lawyer who gets involved in various frightening scenarios while defending unlikely clients. One of the best things about Thóra is that she feel average, compared to many protagonists of mystery series: she doesn't have the sociopathic tendencies of Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan, or the hapless, sloppy self-loathing of Elizabeth George's Barbara Havers. 

When Thóra demonstrates bravery in the face of the unknown and often supernatural, it's very easy for the reader to identify with her, because she doesn't have some kind of virtual superpower that facilitates the resolution of the problem posed in the novel. Her creator explores the ways in which she has to balance her family and her career in a way that feels very different from the ways in which most American mystery series handle the competing desires of female protagonists. I suspect cultural context has a lot to do with the ease with which Thóra's desires are legitimized.

The best example of how Thóra's life is utterly different than I'd imagine an American fictional counterpart's to be is how the teen pregnancy of Thóra's son's girlfriend is handled. Thóra and her ex-husband accept and support the teens' choice to keep the baby. But it isn't because of religious belief or societal expectations. The teens make the decision themselves, and then each family switches off weeks housing the mother and child. There's no moral condemnation, no authorial punishment inserted into the situation. The pregnancy treated in a matter of fact manner that is the polar opposite of the angst ridden scenarios conjured up in semi-fictions like "Teen Mom."

 I'm only about five chapters into Ashes to Dust, so I don't feel ready to weigh in on how it compares to the other books in the series. But the mystery centers around the discovery of bodies in a house being excavated after the devastation of the 1973 explosion of the Eldfell volcano on one of Iceland's Westman Islands. The video above is footage of the explosion and evacuation. How can a murder mystery set in a modern day Pompeii not be good?!


  1. I certainly can relate to days like that! Great sentences.

    Thanks for playing along! :-)

    1. They are great, aren't they? She's a very good writer.