About The Book
After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonja is struggling to provide for herself and win sole custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies. Things become even more complicated by the fact that Sonja is in a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath the Icelandic financial crash. Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a nail-bitingly fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
Earlier this year I spent May Bank Holiday weekend at the gorgeous Lit & Phil in Newcastle Upon Tyne attending Newcastle Noir which was a whole weekend dedicated to noir and crime writing. Not only did I spend far too much money on books but I was also lucky enough to listen to writers talk about their craft and read excerpts from their novels. Lilja Sigurdardottir read from her book Snare, which was in the midst of being translated by Quentin Bates and as such wasn’t available to buy. There was however a booklet containing the first few chapters of Snare and also The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen (more on this book later this month!) and since reading those excerpts at the beginning of May I have been waiting (im)patiently to read the books in full.
Snare is written from a number of different perspectives which I really liked as it gave such a well-rounded view of both Sonja’s situation and that of post-financial crash Iceland. There is a lovely juxtaposition of reading firstly Sonja’s tale which is motivated by regaining custody of her son, Tomas and that of her girlfriend Agla who worked for one of the banks which caused the crash. Sonja is in the midst of a divorce from her husband, Adam and finds herself trapped in the snare of her lawyer and becomes a drugs mule smuggling cocaine into the country. We also meet Braggi, a customs official who is reluctantly facing retirement and wants to go out on a high. Despite Sonja taking numerous precautions she catches Braggi’s eye and when he suspects something is amiss a game of cat and mouse ensues.
I was surprised to find myself reading a book where I was willing somebody to successfully smuggle drugs; I really, really wanted her to succeed. Sonja is a wonderful and incredibly likeable character who has found herself in a situation she is unable to get out of. Her love for her son and her desire to regain custody is palpable and I had an incredible amount of sympathy for her and the lengths she had been driven to. Her life is not an easy one and the passages describing her travelling through the airport with kilos of cocaine were expertly written and full of tense suspense. My heart was in my mouth on some occasions and I had to keep on reading to see what would happen next.
Sigurdardottir is incredibly skilled at writing characters who on paper we shouldn’t like but we actually fall in love with; there is Sonja the drug runner, Agla the banker who was instrumental in the financial collapse and Bragi the taciturn customs official who refuses to retire. Each of these people should be contemptible but they’re not – they are fully rounded and fleshed and multi-layered and their relationships and interactions are very cleverly done. I really enjoyed Sonja and Agla’s relationship and wanted to give Agla a hug – she is so troubled and isolates herself against any outside help making everything that little bit worse.
Snare is a thoroughly modern novel which is set at a pivotal moment in recent history and I really liked reading about the aftermath of the crash and its far-reaching implications. Both Sonja’s ex husband and her girlfriend are implicated in the crash which makes an already difficult situation all the more complex. It is clear from Sigurdardottir’s writing just how large an impact the crash had on Iceland, Snare is very well researched and despite it being an emotive subject it is written in such a way that the facts are given and we are left to decide what we think is right and wrong.
Snare is very much a book about the lengths we will go to for something and each of the character’s motivations are neither black or white. I really loved that I was pushed to question my morals and re-assess my viewpoints – this is a book about fight or flight and the power of redemption. Sigurdardottir perfectly balances the darkness of the crime world against the lightness of love and loyalty and I was engrossed in the layers of storytelling that she perfectly weaves. Snare is the first in a series and I can’t wait to read the next instalment.
About the Author
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, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. Translation rights have been sold in eight countries to date, and film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.
I am thrilled to be one of today’s stops for the Blog Tour for Snare, many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Anne Cater for a copy of the book in return for an honest review. You can find both Lilja Sigurdardottir and Orenda Books on Twitter at @lilja1972 and @OrendaBooks respectively. Snare is out now and can be bought here. Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour, details are beneath!