It’s my turn to chat about BETRAYAL by Lilja Sigurdardottir and published by Orenda Books, with thanks to Anne for the invite. This is an impressive Nordic Noir thriller set in the heart of Icelandic politics…
Burned out and traumatised by her horrifying experiences around the world, aid worker Úrsula has returned to Iceland. Unable to settle, she accepts a high-profile government role in which she hopes to make a difference again.
But on her first day in the post, Úrsula promises to help a mother seeking justice for her daughter, who had been raped by a policeman, and life in high office soon becomes much more harrowing than Úrsula could ever have imagined. A homeless man is stalking her – but is he hounding her, or warning her of some danger? And the death of her father in police custody so many years rears its head once again.
As Úrsula is drawn into dirty politics, facing increasingly deadly threats, the lives of her stalker, her bodyguard and even a witchlike cleaning lady intertwine. Small betrayals become large ones, and the stakes are raised ever higher…
This is an impressive thriller set within the world of Icelandic politics, and its multi-layered narrative hooks you in via the split perspectives of our central characters, headed by Ursula, as she begins a new ministerial post. The story is built through rather short, sometimes choppy chapters; I really enjoyed the structure of the story-telling, and it dispersed what could have been a heavy read. This is no doubt a busy book, with layers from the past and present pulling together as you pick up the threads of all the characters lives and how they interconnect, as the theme of betrayal roots itself.
I always enjoy the sense of place many Nordic crime novels share, and this book is no exception. From the stilted and austere rooms of parliament, to homes and cityscapes netted with snow, this is a carefully crafted read.
I enjoyed the principal characters of Ursula, Stella and Gunnar. Gunnar in particular is endearing and well-drawn. It’s the complexities of Stella that are also engaging, and her position of a cleaner, is a clever play of this flawed and important character. I enjoyed her interaction and overall plotting with Ursula.
Ursula herself, is complex and has to deal with extremely challenging situations. Her past haunts her, and this builds fascinating layers, particularly as she deals with the issues of her new role. She remains constant as she battles the politics and misogynism around her.
A disconcerting and determined thriller set within the dangerous world of corruption and politics. Highly recommended.
The Blog Tour
Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, including Snare, Trap and Cage, making up the Reykjavik Noir trilogy, which have hit bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.
Orenda Books is a small independent publishing company specialising in literary fiction with a heavy emphasis on crime/thrillers, and approximately half the list in translation. They’ve been twice shortlisted for the Nick Robinson Best Newcomer Award at the IPG awards, and publisher
and owner Karen Sullivan was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016. In 2018, they were awarded a prestigious Creative Europe grant for their translated books programme.
Three authors, including Agnes Ravatn, Matt Wesolowski and Amanda Jennings have been WHSmith Fresh Talent picks, and Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, won an English PEN Translation Award, and adapted for BBC Radio Four ’s Book at Bedtime. Six titles have been shortor long-listed for the CWA Daggers. Launched in 2014 with a mission to bring more international literature to the UK market, Orenda Books publishes a host of debuts, many of which have gone on to sell millions worldwide, and looks for fresh, exciting new voices that push the genre in new directions.
Bestselling authors include Ragnar Jonasson, Antti Tuomainen, Gunnar Staalesen, Michael J. Malone, Kjell Ola Dahl, Louise Beech, Johana Gustawsson, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Sarah Stovell.