There was so much to enjoy in Snare, Lilja Sigurdardottir's first novel in the Reykjavik Noir trilogy to be translated into English. I loved her crisp prose, tense twisty storytelling and the moral ambivalence of an empathetic cast of characters doing all the wrong things for the right reasons. You can read my review here.
Now Orenda Books has published the second in the series, translated once again by Quentin Bates. Trap picks up where Snare left off, with Sonja having fled to a Florida trailer park with her young son Tomas, escaping a life of cocaine smuggling that was closing in around her.
When Tomas is snatched by strangers, Sonja follows in desperation, only to find herself back in Iceland with her original problems compounded. Her estranged husband Adam is in charge again, cutting off access to Tomas and forcing her back to the life of a drugs mule. Meanwhile, her lover Agla is caught up in an international web of financial misconduct stemming from the Icelandic banking crash and involving ever greater, more convoluted risks.
You don't need to have read Snare to understand Trap, but it will enrich your enjoyment - because you are returning to old friends. The sort of friends who may have an unwavering instinct for self-preservation and make questionable choices, but do so from the best of motives. Whatever they've done in the past, you still want to hang out with them and get to know them better - such is the deftness of Sigurdardottir's characterisation and emotional pull of her multi-faceted viewpoint.
Sonja is nothing if not a fighter, and she devises an audacious plan that could end her predicament, with a little help from her former adversary, customs officer Bragi. Sonja wishes for nothing more than an ordinary life, working and caring for her son. But, as her attempts to break out of her trap spiral into new and more disturbing realms, her goal seems further away than ever.
Many issues are resolved in Trap and hope is on the horizon, but there are deep psychological wounds that will not easily be healed. It's darkly messy and disturbing yet simultaneously multi-layered and satisfying - a second instalment that plants the seeds of struggles to come in the final novel of the trilogy.
Trap is published by in the UK by Orenda Books, many thanks to them for my review copy.