Monday 7 November 2022

Deceit by Jónína Leósdóttir BLOG TOUR #Deceit @JoninaLeos t. @graskeggur @CorylusB #JoninaLeosdottir #BookReview


The pandemic has hit Iceland hard, and half the police force is in isolation.

Reykjavík detective Soffía finds herself struggling to cope with a single-handed investigation into a spate of malicious acts taking place across the city and enlists help from an unexpected direction. 

Her psychologist ex-husband Adam has advised the police before, but with Covid raging in the city, would prefer to stay holed up in his basement flat as he deals with challenges in both his working and private life.

He grudgingly agrees to work with Soffía but the stakes in the investigation are continually raised. Working out who bears a grudge that goes deep enough to lead to murder, Soffía and Adam unravel complex family ties, lingering enmities, a dark past that the victims would prefer to keep secret, and a young woman in a race against the clock to find the father she has never seen, but for what purpose?

Deceit by Jónína Leósdóttir is published on 15 November 2022 by Corylus Books and is translated by Quentin Bates. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour. 

Deceit is the first book in a new series from Icelandic author Jónína Leósdóttir and the first of her novels to be translated into English. The author is successful in her homeland and it's really clear to see why. Her writing is accessible, and at times, very witty. Her characterisation is first class. The novel is wonderfully translated by Quentin Bates, keeping the very Icelandic flavour and also playing on the Britishness of one of the lead characters. 

Set in the very early months of the COVID19 pandemic, and featuring two fabulous characters, this is a story that is as much about the investigation of a crime as it is about the intricacies of human relationships. 

Soffía is a detective in the 
Reykjavík police force; she's Icelandic through and through. Abrasive, doesn't mince her words and just wants to get things done. Adam is her ex-huband, an English psychologist who works for a private practice in the city. With COVID laying so many police staff low, people are isolating and getting sick, Soffía is struggling to find a team to help to investigate a spate of malicious attacks taking place in the city. Adam has, in the past, worked as a consultant to the police force, and despite his objections, he's soon engaged to help her with this investigation too.

I do wonder how these people ever spent time together as a married couple, let alone have a child together!  They couldn't be more different if they tried. Whilst Soffía is pretty laid back about the whole COVID restrictions thing, Adam is utterly paranoid about constant hand washing, sanitising and keeping to the two metre rule. Their exchanges throughout are often laugh out loud funny as Adam is pushed to his limits by his ex-wife's attitude. 

Despite this, Adam is intrigued by the case and gives it everything he has, whilst also taking on a new client whose story seems a million miles away from what's happening in the city.

The author cleverly weaves multiple stories from one very dysfunctional family into the plot, adding a depth that really makes the reader begin to wonder where this is going to. It's a tale of neglect and cruelty at times and how the events of a childhood can have such long reaching effects for those involved.

I enjoyed this story very much, it's full of unexpected reveals, and packed with wonderfully crafted characters. 

Jónína Leósdóttir is an Icelandic author and playwright. 

She studied modern languages and 
Latin and has a BA-degree in English and Literature. She has written twenty books, fiction and non-fiction, many short stories and plays for radio and television. 

In 2016 Jónína ‘turned to crime’ with a five-book series about amateur sleuth Edda. In 2021 she introduced a new crime- solving duo, detective Soffía and her ex-husband and psychologist Adam. The first novel about the pair will be published in English in autumn 2022 by Corylus Books.

In 2013 Jónína published a memoir about her relationship with Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, former Prime Minister of Iceland. The couple fell in love in 1985 and had a turbulent relationship in the closet for 15 years, before finally setting up home together in 2000. They later married and Jóhanna became the first openly LGBT+ leader in the world.

Jónína Leósdóttir has received awards for her work – for poetry, short stories and books for young adults. She was instrumental in establishing The Icelandic Women’s Literary Prize in 2007 and is now an honorary member of the association that awards the prize.

Twitter @JoninaLeos

Quentin Bates is a writer, translator and journalist. 

He has professional and personal roots in 
Iceland that run very deeHe worked as a seaman before turning to maritime journalism. He is an author of series of nine crime novels and novellas the Reykjavik detective featuringGunnhildur (Gunna) Gísladóttir. 

In addition to writing his own fiction, he has translated books byLilja Sigurðardóttir, Guðlaugur Arason, Einar Kárason, Óskar Guðmundsson and RagnarJónasson. 

Quentin was instrumental in launching IcelandNoir, the crime fiction festival in Reykjavik.

Twitter @graskeggur

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