After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonja is struggling to provide for herself and keep 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 when Sonja embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash. 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, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
This was a fantastic read. A stand-out in an increasingly competitive field -Lila Sigurdardottir has crafted a book that you’ll take a long time to forget once you’ve finished it. It certainly ensnared me.
One of the most striking things I’ll remember about Snare – and there are many – is that I was reading this chilly piece of Scandi noir in the desert heat of Las Vegas this month and despite the 80 degrees or so outside, in my head, I was very firmly transported to Reykjavik and experiencing all of the twists and turns alongside Sonja in the midst of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption.
Sonja’s determined nature really spoke to me and she definitely stepped off the page for me in her determination to gain custody of her son Tomas. Sigurdardottir definitely makes us ask ourselves exactly how far we ourselves would be prepared to go to hold onto the things that we hold precious…
The snare that Sonja finds herself caught in becomes increasingly: ‘Devil or the Deep Blue Sea’ – smuggling cocaine or losing your son is certainly a predicament that few people even dream of, never mind have to cope with. Having just been through American customs on my trip, I felt heart-pounding enough having NOTHING in my suitcase so I can only imagine how Sonja felt on her ‘expeditions’
I also thought that Bragi – the suspicious and observant customs official who finds himself wondering exactly WHY this striking woman keeps appearing it the airport – was a deftly drawn character. His through processes provide a skilful counterpoint to Sonja’s voice and Sigurdardottir is careful that we do not just see him as a one-dimensional character: as well as his rather dour official face, he is a man struggling to cope with the deterioration of his wife who suffers greatly from Alzheimer’s. This book is beautifully balanced and does not just cast stereotypical or one-sided characters that can so often appear in thrillers, but has a cast of nuanced and credible characters that definitely drew me in and held me tight.
I was so drawn into this novel that I was delighted to find The Book Trail review when doing my customary obsessive research – as ever, this fantastic blog transported me effortlessly to Sonja’s environment where I could see for myself the exact places that she was describing to me. Snare is such an evocative read that it was fascinating to see if the visions that I’d been conjuring up in my head in arid Las Vegas were matched by the reality of Sigurdardottir’s Icelandic reality. If this sparks your curiosity, I’ve included the link below so that you can see for yourself
The other aspect of Snare that stood out for me was the presentation of Tomas, Sonja’s young son. I liked the human factor that this gave Snare and again set it apart from much crime thrillers and gave it a much more human edge. He reminds us of the whole reason WHY Sonja gets herself all snared up in the first place and makes readers think about the all too many human stories behind crimes committed rather than just thinking ‘drug smuggler’ or ‘criminal’ it forces us to think that people who commit crimes are wives, mothers, struggling and most importantly – just like us.
The other stand-out aspect of Snare is the story of Sonja and her love-interest Agla. The best part of this story is that it definitely does not feel ‘shoehorned’ in. Agla and Sonja wind up in a passionate relationship where the fact that they are two women is irrelevant. They are two people who fall for each other during tough times for Iceland and their dynamic rings very true. Agla is in there to depict that the Financial rash in Iceland definitely brought out the very worst in some people and her selfish and high handed outlook is an enormous contrast to Sonja’s way of interacting with the people around her which remains human at all times – despite the daily difficulties she is forced to endure.
This will definitely appeal to fans of Scandi noir and is hopefully another fantastic Orenda pick from Karen that will encourage more people to choose books in translation rather than just stick to UK authours and famous voices. It really is well worth your while to cast your net more widely in terms of crime and thrillers right now and the Orenda back catalogue is a fantastic place to start ORENDA BOOKS Click here and see what else takes your fancy…
I’d like to pass on my thanks to the ever-lovely Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour and sending me a copy of the book. It’s such a gorgeous cover that at least three people asked me what I was reading on the plane and in the hotel and the inside is definitely just as striking. Get your hands on your own copy here
Writer on the Shelf
Lilja Sigurðardóttir is an Icelandic crime-writer and playwright, born in 1972. She is the author of four crime novels, Steps (Spor), 2009, Forgiveness (Fyrirgefning), 2010, Snare (Gildran) 2015, Tangle (Netið) 2016 and Cage (Búrið) 2017.
Her debut stage-play Big Babies (Stóru Börnin) was staged in the winter of 2013-2014, became critically acclaimed and won the Icelandic Theatre Prize Gríman as “Best play of the year.”
Lilja´s latest book, Tangle, (Netið) was published in Iceland in October 2016 by Forlagid publishing. The rights to the novel have already been sold to France/Switzerland/Luxembourg/Canada (Éditions Métailié); World English (Orenda Books)
Follow her on Twitter @Lilja1972