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Betrayal By Lilja Sigurdardóttir

Betrayal‘Betrayal’ is the latest book by Icelandic author Lilja Sigurdardóttir and is translated by Quentin Bates.

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.

I’ve been fortunate to have read a few Icelandic noirs over the last while and each one has spirited me away to atmospheric place riddled with lies and suspense.

In this one, we meet Ursula who’s just been rushed into the combined role of Minister of Interior which is the Minister of Transport and Justice. She’s far from the stereotypical minister saying no to the use of her driver as well as security. But then she has to call upon the help of Gunnar after a person is found in her boot. Claiming defeat and the loss of her independence, Ursula throw herself wholeheartedly and her first mission is to get the wheels in motion for a rape case of a teenager who is raped by a policeman. But as she delves further into the case, she begins to receive threatening messages and which makes her look into her own childhood.

The story is primarily seen through the eyes of Ursuala and Gunnar, but there is also narrative from Stella, a young woman who is the cleaner in the Minister’s office. She and Ursula become unlikely friends when they become smoking partners. Stella is a party girl who forms another unlikely friendship with news anchor Greta and helps her on her quest for love by setting up her Tinder Profile.

This is a story that fascinated me on many levels. From the corruption in the police force to the wrong doing in the minster’s office, there were plenty of drama and unreliable characters that kept me on my toes with this story. It was also frustrating to read how women were treated in the position and had to prove their worth and actions on a regular basis.

There are many different stories in this story, each character with a story and background and the author has seamlessly weaved them all coming neatly together in the end.

The book is once again translated by translator Quentin Bates and vividly paints a picture of the freezing Iceland weather and the snow driven streets that made for compelling viewing.

A tense crime thriller that is oddly poignant and sad in parts, ‘Betrayal’ is a thrilling and cleverly crafted story of suspense and corruption with an unfortunate female trying to do her job stuck in the middle.

You can buy ‘Betrayal’ from Amazon.

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