Where the Shadows Lie: Michael Ridpath


This was a book I picked up on a whim. The hubs had asked me to pick up a book on WWII for him, so I strolled over to the library to do so. Of course, I can’t go into a library to pick something up without strolling through the aisles to see if I can find anything that looks interesting to me. Like wine, I’m a sucker for the labeling, so the cover of this book caught my eye. It’s a frosty, desolate looking cover, which actually reminds me of my childhood in Minnesota, but this is actually a depiction of Iceland, where the novel mostly takes place. (Note: I also didn’t realize this was a series when I picked it up, so I’ll be reviewing the next novels in the series later). 

The novel is a whodunit with a folkloric twist, which I enjoyed. The character list is extensive in the start, and builds even more throughout the book:

  • Magnus, an Icelandic born, but Boston raised cop
  • Agnar, a professor in Iceland who may have stumbled across one of the great discoveries of the century
  • Steve Judd, a truck driver with many secrets
  • Mr. Feldman, a rich Lord of the Rings  fanboy looking for treasures
  • Ingileif, the decendent of Asgrimur, a key component in the Gauker saga
  • Petur, Ingileif’s brother
  • Thomas, a TV personality, friend of  Ingileif, and son of the Rev. Hakon
  • Rev Hakon, a local pastor, friend of Ingileif and Petur’s father

The book is great at keeping you guessing who could have done it throughout, which I enjoyed. If you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings and mysteries, you’ll enjoy this book. The story centers around an Icelandic saga that has connections to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books, specifically the ring and its possible actual existence.

Magnus, a Boston cop with a background rooted in Iceland, is given a chance to go to Iceland, for his own safety and to help solve a murder, a rare occurrence in the country. When he arrives and starts to dig, he realizes that the murder may be a bit more complicated than it seemed. The murder involves a professor who was researching ancient Icelandic sagas with ties to J.R.R. Tolkien and a possible ring, two suspects who go by fictional Lord of the Ring character names, and possible living relatives of a saga that had been kept secret for hundreds of years. Are these Lord of the Rings fans, who keep popping up on the suspect list, just fans, or could they be up to something more?

Even though this book is a fictional murder mystery, it takes on a moral tone, if you want to pay any attention to it. It centers on possessions and the “pull” that material items have on  us. So if the saga is true, and the ring is real, would you go after the ring? What lengths would you go to for this possession? Are you strong enough to ward off it’s ultimate power of controlling you?

Things to think about as you read on. I definitely enjoyed this book. I thought it was well written, well paced, and left enough mystery to keep me turning the pages. I look forward to reading the next novel in this series.

Rating: 8.5/10



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