Monday, 9 October 2017

Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir

By Lilja Sigurdardottir
Published by Orenda Books (1 October 2017)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.

Publisher's description
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.

My verdict
Snare is fresh and different, raw yet sophisticated with fleshed out characters and beautiful literary writing. This is a very dark yet easy read, with plenty of heart within its pages. 

Both drug-smuggling young mother Sonja and soon-to-retire customs officer Bragi have hard exteriors yet are soft inside once you delve further into their lives. I found myself wanting a happy ending for both characters, even though in Sonja's case I realised I shouldn't - she's smuggling cocaine, a drug that is likely to kill people and ruin lives. Yet I just couldn't help but feel for her, stuck in a situation with no easy way out and driven by her love for her young son. The airport scenes left me holding my breath - would Sonja find a way to beat the system?

Snare is a cat and mouse game. It's a fast paced read, but it's not one filled with car chases. It's a slower, more intelligent and more measured chase. Sonja is always planning ahead, trying to keep one step ahead, but Bragi isn't far behind. He knows something is going on, but isn't quite sure who is involved or how - and even when he works out the who, he realises Sonja isn't a straightforward cocaine drugs mule. She doesn't fit the mould. I loved the depth not only of the characters, but also the situation they find themselves in - even Bragi isn't as 'straight laced' as he appears. 

Agla wasn't someone I warmed to so well. She's a businesswoman, and likes to be in control - a major problem for her as when she's with Sonja she isn't in control at all. She becomes someone she doesn't recognise - and someone she isn't sure she wants to be - but just can't help her feelings. She's being investigated for financial crimes - again something that's out of her control, and she feels trapped.

This is a book about love - and how far people will go for it, whatever the consequences. A mother's love, a young son's love, a husband's love, a lover's love ... and maybe even a father's love. Love of money, drugs, sex, thrills and control. It's also a book about hate - and how far people will go for that too.

Set in Iceland, with its short days and volcanic ash at a time of a major financial crash, Snare is a compelling, suspenseful and chilling thriller. I must also add that the translation by Quentin Bates is top notch - it doesn't read like a translation at all. I can't wait for the next book from Lilja Sigurdardottir. 

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