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The Devil’s Wedding Ring

2017
Author:

Vidar Sundstøl
Translated by Tiina Nunnally

The Devil’s Wedding Ring

A mysterious disappearance at a 13th-century church in his native Norway draws detective Max Fjellanger into an old case—and a world of ancient ritual, superstition, and present-day danger

After a mysterious disappearance, private investigator Max Fjellanger is plunged into a menacing world of ghostly monks, severed pigs’ heads, and mythic rites, all somehow connected to Midsummer Eve, which is fast approaching. This is award-winning crime novelist Vidar Sundstøl at his best, spinning a tale that is taut with suspense and steeped in Norwegian culture, past and present.

In his novel, The Devil’s Wedding Ring, Vidar Sundstøl has written an intelligent and thoughtful mystery about a man returning to his home country to learn the truth about a friend’s death, and in doing so, he must face ghosts of his own. This pitch-perfect elegy makes for compelling reading, the kind of work that must be savored.

Allen Eskens, author of The Life We Bury

On Midsummer Eve in 1985, a young folklore researcher disappears from the village of Eidsborg in the Telemark region of Norway. Exactly thirty years later, the student Cecilie Wiborg goes missing. She too had been researching the old, pagan rituals associated with the 13th-century Eidsborg stave church. And then Knut Abrahamsen, a former police officer from the area, is found drowned in the nearby Tokke River, a presumed suicide since his pockets were filled with stones.

Hearing of the death of his former colleague and friend, private investigator Max Fjellanger feels compelled to leave his long-time home in Florida and return to his native Norway to attend Knut’s funeral. Even though they haven’t spoken in more than three decades, Max is not convinced that Knut killed himself. There are details about the circumstances of his death that just don’t add up. And there seems to be a link to the case of the missing researcher in Telemark, which the two of them had worked together—until threats from a corrupt sheriff put an end to the investigation and to Max’s career on the police force.

This time Max is determined to find out the truth. Reluctantly he finds himself drawn into a dark universe in which ancient superstitions, religious cults, and sinister forces are still very much alive. And the stave church, with its famed wooden statue of Saint Nikuls, is at the center of it all.

Finding an unlikely partner in Tirill Vesterli—a university librarian and single mother who is obsessed with crime novels—Max is plunged into a menacing world of ghostly monks, severed pigs’ heads, and mythic rites, all somehow connected to Midsummer Eve, which is fast approaching. As Max and Tirill quickly learn, it’s a misconception that the past is past—the truth is that it’s never over.

This is award-winning crime novelist Vidar Sundstøl at his best, spinning a tale that is taut with suspense and steeped in Norwegian culture, past and present.

The Devil’s Wedding Ring

Vidar Sundstøl won the prestigious Riverton Prize for the Best Norwegian Crime Novel for The Land of Dreams, the first volume of his acclaimed Minnesota trilogy, published in the United States by the University of Minnesota Press. The other two volumes are Only the Dead and The Ravens. Sundstøl has lived in the United States and Egypt, and now resides with his family in Telemark, the setting for The Devil’s Wedding Ring.

Tiina Nunnally is an award-winning literary translator. She was appointed Knight of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit for her contributions to Norwegian literature in the United States.

The Devil’s Wedding Ring

In his novel, The Devil’s Wedding Ring, Vidar Sundstøl has written an intelligent and thoughtful mystery about a man returning to his home country to learn the truth about a friend’s death, and in doing so, he must face ghosts of his own. This pitch-perfect elegy makes for compelling reading, the kind of work that must be savored.

Allen Eskens, author of The Life We Bury

Vidar Sundstøl's novels deserve all the praise they have garnered.

Johan Theorin

Ancient myth and contemporary detection collide in this highly impressive thriller.

Publishers Weekly, starred review

This briskly paced atmospheric mystery, inspired by Nordic landscapes and traditions, will appeal to admirers of Yrsa ­Sigurdardóttir and Jan van de Wetering.

Library Journal, starred review

A clever plot.

Kirkus Reviews

The must-read you haven't heard of yet. The Devil’s Wedding Ring is masterfully written, intricately plotted, and wholly immersive; in short, it's a must-read for Nordic Noir fans.

Crime by the Book

If you’re looking for a fun bit of fiction with a compelling plot and enticing characters to help the relaxation flow, this is the book for you.

The Crafty Nix

The Devil's Wedding Ring is a stand-alone novel.

Book Garden

I would definitely recommend this read to anyone looking for an exciting Nordic Noir thriller that perfectly blends murder and mythology.

Belinda Witzenhausen

Sundstøl spins a well-wrought, intelligent, and intense modern mystery with archaic roots, and much to offer about the roots of crime itself. The Devil’s Wedding Ring gets a place on my "hold for reading again soon" shelf, with the books that enchant me because they also teach me about writing, about a really good story, and about how to comb out the complexities of the human spirit.

Kingdom Books

If you like dark mysteries, you will enjoy this book. The characters are engaging. The scenery is magnificent, and the dark aura of magic and occult rituals is creepy, but intriguing.

Nancy Famolari’s Author Spotlight

The Devil’s Wedding Ring