Today it is my absolute pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for the final book in the Reykjavik Noir series by Lilja Sigurðardóttir, Cage. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to publisher Orenda for supplying an early copy of the book for review. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
Drugs, smuggling, big money and political intrigue in Iceland rally with love, passion, murder and betrayal until the winner takes all … in the masterful, explosive conclusion to the award-winning Reykjavík Noir trilogy…Available from: Amazon | Waterstones | Kobo | Googleplay | Apple Books
The prison doors slam shut behind Agla, when her sentence ends, but her lover Sonja is not there to meet her.As a group of foreign businessmen tries to draw Agla into an ingenious fraud that stretches from Iceland around the world, Agla and her former nemesis, María find the stakes being raised at a terrifying speed.
Ruthless drug baron Ingimar will stop at nothing to protect his empire, but he has no idea about the powder keg he is sitting on in his own home.
At the same time, a deadly threat to Sonja and her family brings her from London back to Iceland, where she needs to settle scores with longstanding adversaries if she wants to stay alive.
I have loved reading this series and a part of me, quite a large part, is very sad to see it come to an end. But end it must and, to be fair, as endings go, this one is pretty spot on.
With Cage, Lilja Sigurðardóttir has moved the primary focus away from former series protagonist Sonja, to her one time lover, Agla, and those who touch upon her new, drastically altered, life. As readers of the series will be aware, Agla was in some pretty hot water for her part in the financial trickery that brought down the Icelandic Banking system and affected economies across the globe. As we join her, Agla is nearing the end of her sentence and while you might assume this to be a happy moment, for her it marks an all time low, Her relationship with Sonja has come to an abrupt end, and her future is far from assured. Even her one time nemesis and sparring partner, Maria, has moved on. Sort of. To a degree. There seems to be little left for Agla. Until, that is, she is approached with a proposition that is too good to pass up.
This book is very different in tone from the previous two books in the series, the focus shifting from drug dealing to fraud, and, for Agla at least, the fear moving from that of being caught, to that of allowing herself to fall in love again. It took me a short time to get into this book, partly because I’m not sure I knew Agla all that well, and seeing into her new existence, initially behind bars and then in negotiating her very restricted freedom, felt like getting to know a brand new character. On top of that, Agla’s social sphere has changed dramatically, so there were new characters to get to know, old favourites such as Bragi noticeable by their understandable absence.
So much had changed from the last time we saw these characters that I had to find a new kind of rhythm for reading the story and to fill in the gaps in my understanding. Thankfully the author is very adept in setting the scene, so it didn’t take too long to be drawn into the story. Agla’s world is very complicated, full of financial transactions and corporate diversions that could make it hard to follow if written by less assured hands. The author makes it all very accessible and enticing, permeating the seemingly dry subject of fraud with a high tension, high stakes plotline that really takes off and gets the adrenaline pumping.
Don’t think for one minute that this book is all about numbers. There are some darker moments abound too in which the author touches upon some highly emotive and very relevant topics that blight today’s society, not just in Iceland, but globally. On top of that we are treated to some truly emotional scenes both at the beginning of the novel where we first become reacquainted with Agla, and towards the end when the changes in her life come full circle to a kind of happy ending. And we get to find out what has happened to Sonja and how her life has changed so dramatically since the events of Trap. It is very clever how the many threads of story are interwoven, and it did leave me with a smile on my face as I read it.
What I love about the series, and something which I find to be inherent in most Icelandic fiction, is that way in which the author really takes you to the moment and the location of the action. Be it behind the closed prison doors, or trailing across North America, you get a real sense of place and the mood and the action switch up to match the setting perfectly. You also get those odd moments of jeopardy that sneak up on you, not designed to shock necessarily (although in this case they likely will) so much as to keep you glued to the page to see just how Maria can get out of the many predicaments she finds herself in courtesy of assisting Agla.
Cage is another great instalment in the series, and although perhaps at times a little slower paced than its predecessors, no less absorbing or tense. We may not have tigers, but we do find something far more sinister to contend with. By the end of the book I found myself liking Agla more than I ever had before, and wishing to see her find that happy ending she so wanted. It may not come in the form readers are expecting, but it is still rewarding and the perfect way to end a brilliant series. Top stuff.
Hats off once more to Quentin Bates for another flawless translation. The partnership between the two is perfect and you can hear the author’s voice come through in every single line without losing a moment of intent in the translation.
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, including Snare and Trap, the first two books in 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.
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