#BlogTour #BookReview - Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir (translated by Quentin Bates)

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonja is struggling to provide for herself and keep 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 when Sonja embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash. Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, 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.

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for Snare today. Many thanks to Orenda Books, Lilja Sigurdardóttir and Anne Cater for inviting me to take part and for my review copy received in return for my honest review.
I've been looking forward to reading Snare ever since I first saw the eye catching cover reveal on Twitter and I was hooked from the very start of the book. On bare facts alone it would be very easy to condemn Sonja, she appears to be a cool, calculating drug smuggler who has become adept at fooling the authorities as she passes through airports. However, it wasn't too long before I found myself sympathising with her plight despite her criminal activities. After losing custody of her son following a messy divorce, Sonja thought she was handed a lifeline - instead her life has spiralled out of control. Her success in smuggling small amounts of cocaine brings her to the attention of dangerous criminals who begin to demand more from her, and to Bragi, a customs official nearing his retirement. As Sonja begins to take more and more risks in a desperate bid to free herself from the snare she has been caught in, she is forced to play an ever more tense game of cat and mouse with Bragi.
Set against the Icelandic financial crisis, it isn't just Sonja whose decisions have life changing consequences. Her relationship with Agla is complicated enough as Agla is being prosecuted for her role in the banking crash. She is by turns needy and demanding, often turning up drunk at Sonja's house, then cold, even cruel as she feels ashamed to be in a relationship with another woman. Of all the characters in the book, I found Agla one of the hardest to like, yet at her lowest point I couldn't help but feel some sympathy despite knowing she was responsible for much of her plight.
Sonja is far easier to empathise with, it's perhaps unusual to read a thriller where the main protagonist is the criminal rather than a police officer but that's what makes Snare such a refreshing read. Sonja is an intelligent woman who discovers she is very good at drug smuggling, yet the only pleasure she derives from it is the hope that she will eventually have earned enough money to free herself from her snare and regain custody of her son, Tomas. The relationship between mother and son is both touching and heartbreaking, their enforced estrangement desperately painful for them both. I also  liked Bragi a great deal, the tenderness he displays towards his wife who is suffering from dementia and living in a care home is desperately poignant. As his superiors try to push him towards retirement he knows that Sonja could provide him with the career finale he needs. That I cared deeply for both Sonja and Bragi's predicaments and found my loyalties divided throughout the book is a testament to Lilja Sigurdardóttir's writing; she has created nuanced characters who are obviously flawed yet I still found myself rooting for them even when their actions seemed shocking.
The cleverly constructed plot eventually brings the various story strands together and as the book raced towards its conclusion there were numerous moments where my heart felt as though it were in my mouth, this is one tense read! I'm delighted therefore that as the first book in the Reykjavík Noir trilogy there is more to come from Lilja Sigurdardóttir, and that I've discovered another outstanding Nordic author; with that in mind I must also give a mention to Quentin Bates whose superb work in translating this book meant I forgot it was originally written in a different language. Snare is one of the most original thrillers I've read this year, it is intelligent, sexy and exciting, I'm really looking forward to what happens next!

Snare is published by Orenda Books. You can follow Lilja Sigurdardóttir on Twitter here and Quentin Bates here. Don't forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

 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.