‘Shortlisted for the Glass Key Award for the best Nordic Crime Novel’
[ About the Book ]
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…
[ My Review ]
Betrayal by Lilja Sigurðardóttir was published Oct 1st in original paperback with Orenda Books and is described as ‘a relevant, powerful, fast-paced thriller about the worlds of politics, police corruption and misogyny that feels just a little bit too real…’ It tells the story of a woman who finds herself stuck in world that is very male dominant, a world where she hoped she could make a difference.
Úrsula has spent years in war-torn parts of the world as an aid-worker. She has been left with emotional scars from the horrors she has witnessed and now, back in Iceland, is finding it hard to readjust to everyday living. Úrsula’s home life is very unsettled. Surrounded by the love and concern of her husband, Nonni, and her children, Úrsula has felt disjointed, almost as though she is floating through her life. Unable to explain her feelings, Úrsula was just hanging on, living every day without a purpose. A very unexpected call from the prime minister looking for Úrsula to consider a one-year temporary appointment in the role, combining the Ministries of Justice and Transport, takes Úrsula completely by surprise. With the unexpected illness of the sitting minister, Úrsula does question why she is chosen, as a non-party member, but she is excited. This is the first time, since returning from her charity work, that she has felt alive. Maybe, with Nonni’s support, she can make some real changes.
Úrsula accepts the role and, on her first day, unwittingly accepts a case where a mother is seeking justice for her daughter’s rape by a city official. Úrsula makes a promise to seek out justice but she is unaware of the tangled web she is about to find herself stuck in.
When stalked by a homeless man, Úrsula must look back to her past for possible answers, unearthing a truth that was buried many years previously.
Betrayal, excellently translated by Quentin Bates, is a novel of many layers. As each one is peeled back, another secret is revealed. Úrsula is a very shrewd candidate for a ministerial role leaving the men she works with quite unprepared for what they have unleashed. Exposing the cut-and-throat of politics, Betrayal, digs deep into the political psyche where acceptable levels of corruption are par for the course. Although this is a fictitious tale, it really does feel very authentic. There is one character in the novel who I felt there was too much focus on. This character is important to the final outcome but I felt a more condensed approach would have been better. But that aside I enjoyed this journey into Icelandic crime fiction.
Betrayal is an interesting tale highlighting the dirty side of politics and the extreme behaviour of those who wish to maintain a clean image. With short chapters Betrayal is a snappy, sharp read, one that is sure to please all Lilja Sigurðardóttir fans. Reading these translated works from Orenda Books is always fascinating and so very insightful. We see beyond the familiar as we open our minds to the greater world while also introducing ourselves to such a wonderful variety of writing styles, a very positive thing indeed!
[ Bio ]
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 the Reykjavik Noir series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. Trap was published in 2018, and a Book of the Year in Guardian. The film rights for the series have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California.
Lilja lives in Reykjavík with her partner.