Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Sacrifice by S. J. Bolton

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Sacrifice by S. J. Bolton. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Sacrifice by S. J. Bolton

by
Non-series

St. Martin's Minotaur (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-312-38186-7 (0312381867)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-38186-8 (9780312381868)
Publication Date: June 2009
List Price: $14.95

Review: Sacrifice by S. J. Bolton is her debut medical mystery thriller filled with more twists and turns than Lombard Street in San Francisco. It keeps you guessing and leaves you astounded with its final pages. Tess Gerritsen, Michael Palmer, and Robin Cook move over, you have some serious competition in the medical mystery field.

Set in the rocky hills of the Shetland Islands off the northern coast of Scotland, Tora Hamilton discovers a secret. In her attempt to bury her beloved horse, she uncovers the body of a young woman. But is this woman centuries old or recently buried? Tora, an obstetrician, discovers that the young woman was killed recently, just after having given birth. In addition, her heart has been cut out. What bizarre ritual has she stumbled upon? Who would do such a thing? Tora sets out to find the answers and puts her own life in jeopardy in the process. Her husband, the police, and her coworkers all urge her to let “sleeping dogs lie” but Tora gives them no heed. Who can she turn to, who can she trust?

For a debut novel, Bolton has done an outstanding job. Every time I thought I had the mystery figured out, I was wrong. In fact, I was unable to solve the mystery ahead of time, something that is usually not a problem for me. In addition, the unique setting, combined with the ancient folklore, all add up to a “can’t put down” book. Her female characters are believable and demonstrate courage beyond your typical female sleuth. Tora’s audacity and tenaciousness in the solving the mystery kept me hooked until the very end. I would rate this novel a five out of five stars. It was the best medical mystery novel that I have read in the past year, and I look forward to reading her next novel Awakening.

Sacrifice was nominated for several awards: The Mary Higgins Clark Award, and 2009 International Thriller Writers "Best First Novel" Award. Unfortunately, Sacrifice did not win. I consider this a great miscarriage of justice. If you are looking for a stimulating mystery, one that will keep you surprised until the very end, then pick up a copy of Sacrifice. The sacrifice your wallet feels will definitely be worth it!

Special thanks to Ruth Miller for contributing her review of Sacrifice and to St. Martin's Minotaur for providing a trade paperback edition of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Ruth Miller — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Tora Hamilton is an outsider at her new home on the rocky, windswept Shetland Islands, a hundred miles from the northeastern tip of Scotland. Though her husband grew up here, it’s the first time he’s been back in twenty years. Digging in the peat on their new property, Tora unearths a human body, at first glance a centuries-old bog body, interesting but not uncommon. But realizing that the body is in fact much newer, that the woman’s heart has been cut out, and that she was killed within a few days of bearing a child, Tora, herself an obstetrician, becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her—even when the police, her colleagues, and eventually her husband warn her against getting involved.

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