When Áróra returns to her birthplace, Iceland, she does so under duress – at the behest of her mother. Her sister, Ísafold, has disappeared and her mother wants Áróra to find her.
Áróra has been back to Iceland many times because of her sister. Though six years her elder, Ísafold has always been the needy one, the one that requires looking after. She has been living in a flat with her abusive partner named Björn, and has recently been fired from her job. Now, no one has heard from her for over two weeks.
Áróra, who lives in Edinburgh, is a financial investigator, though to make her life simpler she tells everyone she is an accountant. She meets a man at the hotel where she is staying in Iceland, and they quickly act upon their impulses and have a sexual relationship. Until…
During the course of looking for her missing sister, Áróra meets up with her uncle (by marriage), named Daníel. Though he is fifteen years her senior, they are attracted to one another. Now life is complicated. Daníel is a policeman, now divorced, and he has promised to help her find Ísafold.
Meanwhile, we come to know some of the tenants that live in the same building as Ísafold and Björn.
Olga is in her sixties, and she is harboring a refugee named Omar. Omar is very good to her and helps her about the flat. She looks upon him almost as a son. But… sometimes he scares her a little.
Grímur lives in the flat directly under that of Ísafold and Björn. He heard the many altercations and arguments. Grímur was very fond of Ísafold and listened to her problems when she visited him. Grímur is a strange man. He shaves his body every day, sometimes twice a day. His head hair, his eyebrows, his pubic hair, his chest and legs. He believes that hair sucks the energy from his body.
Wow! What a ride! This is my first book by this author, and the beginning of a new series. Needless to say, this is a series I will be following with alacrity.
Throughout the novel, I was a bit torn as to whether I liked Áróra or not. It took me the entire novel to decide that yes, yes I do. She is a ‘badass’. She is tall, strong, and knows her own place in her world. Sometimes her moral compass seems a bit off, but she resonates as a ‘good’ person.
The Icelandic settings were well described, though the author seems to have a love/hate relationship with the country – as does her protagonist, Áróra.
This novel would make a great movie. With themes of corporate fraud, domestic abuse, illegal aliens, and missing persons, this book has a lot going on. When you add in the potential romance, then you have a winning combination.
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Orenda Books.ISBN: 9781913193881 – ASIN: B09418BM7Q – 276 pages
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 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 being chosen as a Guardian Book of the Year. Lilja’s standalone Betrayal was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures. Lilja is also an award-winning screenwriter in her native Iceland. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.
“Cold As Hell” was expertly translated by Quentin Bates.