blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Cold as Hell – Lilja Sigurđardóttir, translated by Quentin Bates

Estranged sisters Áróra and Ísafold live in different countries, and are not on speaking terms. When their mother loses contact with Ísafold, Áróra reluctantly returns to Iceland to look for her. But she soon realizes that her sister isn’t avoiding her … she has disappeared, without a trace. As she confronts Ísafold’s abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend Björn, and begins to probe her sister’s reclusive neighbours – who have their own reasons for staying out of sight – Áróra is drawn into an ever-darker web of intrigue and manipulation. Baffled by the conflicting details of her sister’s life, and blinded by the shiveringly bright midnight sun of the Icelandic summer, Áróra enlists the help of police officer Daníel, to help her track her sister’s movements, and tail Björn. But she isn’t the only one watching…

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurðardóttir 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, her 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 was 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 in California. Lilja is also an award-winning screenwriter in her native Iceland. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

My thoughts: this was very good, which isn’t a surprise when you consider the author. A clever, twisting narrative, where all the characters have secrets and you can’t quite work out who the killer is, there’s something very odd about Ísafold’s neighbour and he certainly knows more than he’s saying. Àroŕa might be an excellent financial investigator but she’s stumped by her sister’s disappearance and distracted by hotelier Hakon and his dubious financial dealings.

Flicking between different perspectives, slowly the events surrounding Ísafold’s disappearance start to coalesce. Then there’s Olga and Omar downstairs, with their own reasons for not wanting to speak to the police, trying to keep out of the way. But also not attract suspicion, unlike Ìsafold’s ex-partner, Bjorn, a thoroughly unlikeable man who thinks he’s above it all, despite being the main suspect.

It’s all very cleverly done, with the overlapping narratives weaving together as Daniel, the sisters’ sort of uncle, using his detective skills first unofficially, then very much opening a case, to try to find Ìsafold in the long sunny Icelandic summer. The writing is crisp and precise, keeping the reader hooked. A pleasure to read.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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