D.A. Ball
March 18, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

The spellbinding memoirs of a vile old man’s final days. ”I wish to disappear in peace and forget what was and what could have been, forget everything except you in your black dress with your white pearls, a coy smile on your lips.” But Peter Peterson can’t forget (nor will you) his unforgivable revenge against a rival suitor half a century ago in Nazi-occupied Denmark. The plot of this precarious voyage through Peterson’s loathsome mind can’t be told without hurting Absolution, but Ólafsson’s English-language debut (he’s a best-selling Icelandic author) is formidably written. Ólafsson traps us into mourning the monstrous Peterson, and identifying with him too closely for comfort. A

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