If you’re looking for a treatise on ancient Norse mythology, runes, bog bodies, and ritualistic murder disguised as a mystery/thriller, “At First Light” should fill the bill. Chicago PD Detectives Addie Bisset and Patrick McBrady call in Dr. Evan Wilding as consultant on two murders where the bodies have been mutilated and carefully posed in a bog. Evan Wilding, PhD is a scholar and forensic semiotician who also happens to be Detective Bisset’s BFF. At each site where the bodies are discovered the killer has left obscure clues in the form of parts of a long poem and pieces of wood with runic carvings. Addie hopes Evan can decipher the strange markings and make enough sense of the runes to lead them to the killer. Evan and Addie lead us through the action while trying to glean some insight into the killer’s motivation that will help unravel the mystery and reveal his identity.
Along the way we get a crash course in all things relating to the old Norse and their runes. Probably more than is necessary to tell the story. I was tempted on more than one occasion to consign it to the DNF file but my stubbornness wouldn’t allow it. So I hung in through far too many pages dedicated to Norse history and all its trappings. In my opinion, author Barbara Nickless could cut 100 pages from the publication length of 395 and have an imminently more readable story. “At First Light” is due for publication December 1, 2021. This was my Kindle First Read choice and I remember that I almost took a pass on the November offerings. Maybe I should’ve. Three stars.
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