Today it is my great pleasure to be taking part in the tour for Trap by Lilja Sigurdardóttir. I loved the originality and style of the first book in the series, Snare, and this is one book I have been looking forward to reading for a very long time. A massive thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to join the tour and to publisher, Orenda Books, for providing an advance copy for review. Here is what the book is all about.
About the Book
Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland.
Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.
With her former nemesis, customs officer Bragi, on her side, Sonja puts her own plan into motion, to bring down the drug barons and her scheming ex-husband, and get Tomas back safely. But things aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and Sonja finds herself caught in the centre of a trap that will put all of their lives at risk…
Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
If you want the abridged version of my review without all the waffle, let me say it here and now, I loved this book. There. You can go now. No? Still here? Okay, so here’s the rest of it.
Snare was one of the standout books for me last year and when we left our heroine, Sonja, she was escaping Iceland with her son Tomas, and hoping for a new start away from all of her troubles. Now for those not in the know, Sonja, bless her, had found herself stuck as a reluctant drugs smuggler, a woman under true duress who would do anything for her son. When we meet up with Sonja she has made a new life for them both in the USA.
That new found happiness will be short lived however as, let’s face it, it wouldn’t be a very long or exciting story otherwise. In a high tension, heart thumping opener, Sonja finds herself on a trip back to her homeland, caught once more in the trap which her corrupt ex-husband, Adam, had laid out for her. Forced to restart the smuggling, but under greater pressure than ever, Sonja must fight to gain her freedom, although now the stakes are higher than ever.
I really liked the character of Sonja. You probably shouldn’t give her current career, but there is something about her which tends towards sympathy from the reader. She is hard, or at least that is the persona she would like to show the world, but inside you know there is a truly vulnerable core, one which is full of love for her son and, despite her obvious flaws, you cannot help but like her.
The one thing about Sonja though, and the reason that you cannot underestimate her, is because she is smart. Very, very canny in fact. And that’s good because boy is she put through the ringer this time around. If it wasn’t bad enough being under Adam’s control, she has a whole new set of problems to contend with when she is sent to collect a consignment from London bringing her face to face with the terrifying and remorseless Mr Jose. Whatever fear she felt the first time they met is nothing compared to what is facing her on this visit with matters going from bad to worse. The way in which the author has created the tension in these scenes is brilliant, the energy palpable, and you can feel the fear rising from the page. And not just because of the obvious – the absolute quiet menace of Jose is enough to scare anyone.
We get to learn a lot more about Sonja’s on/off lover Agla in this book too. Whilst we were made aware of her dodgy trade deals in the first book, ones which helped lead to the collapse of the Icelandic banks, you see far more of what has been going on and also of Agla’s attempts to evade justice while still building a massive nest egg for herself and her colleagues. It was really interesting to see this side of the story, one which moves Agla past simply being the nervous and uncertain lover of Sonja. You see a much more human side of Agla contrasted against the hungry, almost clinical, financial whizz that she is. The scene’s between her and Sonja are filled with uncertainty as the two find reuniting to be harder than they thought, Sonja’s mind inevitably with her son and her own problems, but despite it all, they are a couple who seem to work and, as it happens, Agla is willing to make compromises to save Sonja and Tomas too.
The final part of this story is given to Bragi, the Customer Officer who casts aside his own convictions to help Sonja, There is a financial motive here, but not as black and white as you may think, as he too is motivated by love and family. Bragi’s life provides perhaps the most touching scene of all, bringing a tear to the eye by the simplicity of its portrayal. Life can be cruel sometimes.
This is really a hard novel to describe in terms of pacing. It is neither fast nor slow. It just kind of fits. There are scenes of great tension, where your heart will be in your mouth, for example the scene where Sonja finally learns why Sponge got his nickname. Those scenes may make your skin crawl a little but, while necessary, they are not gratuitous in any way. The scenes where Agla concocts her deals may be laden with bank speak but still accessible and you can easily see where the rot, or the greed, began. But then there are still quieter moments where the characters reflect on their mistakes and choices, on the way that the hand that life has dealt them has played out and led them to their current fates.
I found that I flew through this book in no time, just as I had with Snare, swearing at the points where Sonja’s plans seemed to be thwarted, cheering on when the ‘true’ bad guys got there dues, and smiling as I read how canny and strong the women in this novel can be. And it is the women who show the true strength. Not in terms of brutality perhaps, but certainly in intelligence and cunning. Not all will come out on top in the end, but woe betide anyone who underestimates.
Top stuff. Highly recommended.
If you would like your own copy of Trap it is available now from the following retailers:
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. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.
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