Wednesday 28 October 2020

Betrayal by Lilja Sigurðardóttir @lilja1972 #Betrayal - Translated by Quentin Bates @graskeggur @OrendaBooks #IcelandNoir #BlogTour


Burned out and traumatised by her horrifying experiences around the world, aid worker Úrsula has returned to Iceland. Unable to settle, she accepts a high-profile government role in which she hopes to make a difference again.
But on her first day in the post, Úrsula promises to help a mother seeking justice for her daughter, who had been raped by a policeman, and life in high office soon becomes much more harrowing than Úrsula could ever have imagined. A homeless man is stalking her but is he hounding her, or warning her of some danger? And why has the death of her father in police custody so many years earlier reared its head again?
As Úrsula is drawn into dirty politics, facing increasingly deadly threats, the lives of her stalker, her bodyguard and even a witch-like cleaning lady intertwine. Small betrayals become large ones, and the stakes are raised ever higher

Betrayal by Lilja Sigurðardóttir was published by Orenda in paperback on 1 October 2020 and is translated from the Icelandic by Quentin Bates. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour.

Having read and enjoyed this author's Reykjavik Noir series, I was really keen to read this standalone story from one of Iceland's finest thriller authors.

I read this in one day, and the hook really was the amazing lead character Ursula. Lilja Sigurðardóttir  excels in creating strong, feisty female leads and Ursula is one of the very best. She leads the story throughout, and is supported by an eclectic and varied cast of characters too.

Ursula has spent much of her career in lands that are savaged by disease and war. Tending to Ebola victims in Liberia and helping those whose homes have been destroyed in Syria. After much discussion with her husband Nonni, she's made the decision to return home to Iceland to spend more time with him, and their two children. Ursula loves her family, but has conflicting feelings about if she is still in love with Nonni. Her experiences overseas have left deep scars on her mind, and she suffers from occasional flashbacks, and often questions herself.

When she's offered a one year tenure with the Icelandic Government as a Minister, she is shocked and surprised, as are many others, both in Government and in the community. However, Ursula is determined that she can use these twelve months to do good for Iceland, and accepts the post.

Despite her initial insistence that she doesn't need an official driver, she comes to realise that, after a couple of incidents with a homeless man who appears to be stalking her, that her driver Gunnar is much needed. Gunnar then goes to to become her confident and her protector, and she really does need him.

Sigurðardóttir really takes her reader into the heart of Iceland, not just the fabulously described landscape, weather and people, but the dark and often murky areas of politics. What could be a dry and maybe boring subject is brought to life as Ursula uncovers truths that have been hidden by those in power. It is not just governmental issues that have been covered up though, whilst the investigation into an alleged rape by a policeman has certainly been halted, and the much wanted new road system is most certainly not above board, she also discovers that her own personal history has been shaped by the actions of powerful men.

Ursula is a complex character, but I loved her. This author creates wonderful characters and those that are not as upstanding as Ursula are also cleverly crafted. Whilst this is not a long story, the reader really becomes part of the story, getting to know both the personal and public sides of all of the players in the story.

Betrayal is a clever, classy crime thriller with a good dash of political intrigue thrown in. Sigurðardóttir  is a smart, empathic writer and I can't wait for more from her. 

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, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. 
The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

Follow Lilja on Twitter @lilja1972 and on her website

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

Follow Quentin on Twitter @graskeggur and on his website

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