Red as Blood by Lilja Sigurdardóttir trns by Quentin Bates

Today it’s my pleasure to be joining. theblog tour for Red As Blood, book two in the Áróra Investigation series from Lilja Sigurdardóttir. I really do love the author’s books and was so excited to be gifted an early copy by Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books. My thanks also to Anne Cate for the blog tour invite. Here’s what the book is about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 13 October 2022
Publisher: Orenda Books

About the Book

When entrepreneur Flosi arrives home for dinner one night, he discovers that his house has been ransacked, and his wife Gudrun missing. A letter on the kitchen table confirms that she has been kidnapped. If Flosi doesn’t agree to pay an enormous ransom, Gudrun will be killed. 

Forbidden from contacting the police, he gets in touch with Áróra, who specialises in finding hidden assets, and she, alongside her detective friend Daniel, try to get to the bottom of the case without anyone catching on.

Meanwhile, Áróra and Daniel continue the puzzling, devastating search for Áróra’s sister Ísafold, who disappeared without trace. As fog descends, in a cold and rainy Icelandic autumn, the investigation becomes increasingly dangerous, and confusing. 

Chilling, twisty and unbearably tense, Red as Blood is the second instalment in the riveting, addictive An Áróra Investigation series, and everything is at stake…

My Thoughts

I do love this series. From the beginning of this novel we are pulled right into the action, a seemingly simple domestic scene that turns from bliss to chaos in just a few short page turns. A kidnapped housewife, a husband who is perhaps not being as honest as he could be, and a new job for Áróra which turns out has more layers than an onion. I liked the flexible nature of the truths in this book, the way in which readers are kept on the back foot, never quite given the full picture until the perfect moment. There are so many ‘could be’ threads in this book that the ‘actually it’s’ moments deliver the perfect amount of surprise, just the way I like it.

I really like Áróra as a character. Drawn back to Iceland to try and find out the truth of what happened to her sister, and if you haven’t read the first book in the series, Cold As Hell, I would suggest that you read that before setting off on this particular adventure. Both as stand alone stories, and within a few pages of the start of book one, readers are left with little doubt of how the story will go, but not the why or who of it all. In Red As Blood we are dealt the what and the who, so if you can’t handle spoilers, read the books in order.

If, like me, you’ve devoured book one, the emotional impact of Áróra’s quest will be quite strong. I love her determination, her focus, but also the way in which the author has portrayed her guilt and her need for atonement for not being there for Īsafold when she really needed her. Her involvement in the kidnapping case, what should be simply a case of safely transporting a very large quantity of cash from the UK to Iceland to cover the ransom, becomes a distraction, but one full of far more threat and jeopardy than Áróra or her friend, MIchael, might have expected.

It’s safe to say that when there is money involved it makes people act in very suspect and unexpected ways. This whole story centres around the cash, not only its origins but who would know that such quantities existed. It leads us to a number of suspects, the finger of blame being pointed. in many directions in swift succession, some more obvious than others. There is a darker side to the book, as if kidnapping were not enough, and it leads to several very heart-thumping moments for Áróra in the pursuit of the truth. I liked that conflict, that sense that what she uncovers in this book has implications for the future and I’m looking forward to seeing them play out in the next few books.

Áróra isn’t on this quest alone as Police Detective Daniel Hansson is back and ready to step in to get to the truth of the case. There is a real chemistry between the pair, but a reluctance on Áróra’s part to act upon it as all of her focus is on Īsafold. Where there is any chance of a thaw in this book you’ll have to read to find out, but they make a good pair, fully in tune with each other and they work really well together, drawing the case to a conclusion, even if it’s not the one you might has expected.

The kidnapping is not the only angle to this book and I like the way in which Lilja Sigurardóttir has explored all the different relationships within the book. It’s not only the familial ties of kidnapping victim Gudrun, her husband, Flosi, and the extended family of daughter, Sara Sól, and ex-wife Karen, although that relationship is tangled and complicated enough. Flosi is far from a sympathetic victim and there is a sense that whatever he gets he probably deserved. There’s also the ties between Áróra and Daniel, a bit more of an exploration of the many relationships of Daniel’s fellow Detective Helena, who is searching for the perfect hook-up, as well as a closer look at the friendship between Daniel and his neighbour Lady Gúgúlú, where we see a much more tender side to that friendship as well as exploration of homophobia.

It may sound like there is a lot going on and, in fairness, there is, but it never feels that way, the flow of the story and the pacing pitched perfectly to keep readers on tenterhooks and making me completely invested in the lives of these characters. Love or loathe them, I wanted to see the case play out, and play out it most certainly did. Brilliant translation by Quentin Bates once more, capturing all the nuances of the story, the emotion of the various backstories, the tension of the darker moments, and bringing an absolute clarity to the Icelandic landscape that takes us to the heart of the story. I’m loving the series and cannot wait to read more. Most definitely recommended.

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 and Lilja’s English debut shortlisting for the CWA International Dagger and hitting bestseller lists worldwide. Trap soon followed suit, with the third in the trilogy Cage winning the Best Icelandic Crime Novel of the Year, and was a Guardian Book of the Year. Lilja’s standalone Betrayal, was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel. In 2021, Cold as Hell, the first in the An Áróra Investigation series was published, with Red as Blood to follow in 2022. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja is also an award-winning screenwriter in her native Iceland. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

About the Transaltor

Quentin Bates escaped English suburbia as a teenager, jumping at the chance of a gap year working in Iceland. For a variety of reasons, the gap year stretched to become a gap decade, during which time he went native in the north of Iceland, acquiring a new language, a new profession as a seaman and a family, before decamping en masse for England. He worked as a truck driver, teacher, netmaker and trawlerman at various times before falling into journalism, largely by accident. He is the author of a series of crime novels set in present-day Iceland (Frozen Out, Cold Steal, Chilled to the Bone, Winterlude, Cold Comfort and Thin Ice) which have been published worldwide. He has translated all of Ragnar Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series

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