Betrayal by Lilja Sigurdardottir #Orentober


Book blurb

Exploring the harsh worlds of politics, police corruption and misogyny, Betrayal is a relevant, powerful, fast-paced thriller that feels just a little bit too real

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…

Exploring the harsh worlds of politics, police corruption and misogyny, Betrayal is a relevant, powerful, fast-paced thriller that feels just a little bit too real

My thoughts

After reading the Reykjavik Noir series Lilja Sigurðardóttir has become a favourite author and so it’s no surprise that I was really keen to read this standalone story from one of Iceland’s finest authors.

Lilja Sigurðardóttir really does excel in creating strong, wonderful female leads and Ursula is no exception. She is a wonderful lead in this story and is supported by an interesting and varied cast of characters.

Ursula has spent many years working in countries that are devastated by disease and war – such as caring for Ebola victims in Liberia and those whose homes have been destroyed in Syria. Her work has taken its toll on her and her family so with the encouragement her husband, Nonni, she’s made the decision to return home to Iceland to spend more time with him, and their two children. Ursula loves her family but working in such devastating areas has left her numbed. She is finding it almost impossible to know what she feels let alone know if she is still in love with Nonni. She has been mentally scarred, suffers occasional flashbacks, and is left questioning herself.

When she’s offered a one year term as a Government Minister in Iceland she is taken aback, as are others both in Government and the community. Still, Ursula accepts as she is determined to use the time to do good things.

Not used to all the paraphernalia that comes with a ministerial post she insists that she doesn’t need an official driver. However, after a couple of incidents she realises that having a driver, Gunnar, is really necessary. Gunnar is determined to protect Ursula and she not only relies on him as a driver and bodyguard but as someone she can trust.

Lilja Sigurðardóttir truly takes her readers into the Icelandic setting – the glorious landscape, the turbulent weather, the hardy people and the cruel, often shady areas of politics. The author breathes colour, brings a keen eye and using her wonderful ability with words shines a fresh light on Icelandic politics through Ursula as she uncovers truths that have been hidden by those in power. She finds cover ups – the investigation of an alleged rape by a policeman has been halted, the much desired new road system is not above board – and even her own personal history has been affected by the actions of powerful men. The treatment she receives from her colleagues, the press and individuals shines a not very good light on how women are often treated or regarded in politics and not just in Iceland I dare say.

Ursula is a complex but lovable character. The supporting cast of characters are very well crafted. I really enjoyed the character of Stella with her snowflake, ice crystal runes and staves. Despite her mistakes I found her endearing. She also highlighted how life can be for those who come to live in new countries. This book also gave an insight into the world of homelessness and how we often perceive those that wander our streets – it was nice to see some of the kindness given. Although it would certainly be much better if something more could be given – like a home.

Betrayal is a sophisticated, clever crime thriller set within the world of politics and political intrigue.

So my favourite Orenda author has written another wonderful book. Nicely translated by Quentin Bates. Lilja Sigurðardóttir is a wonderful and compassionate writer and I look forward to her next book.

Book: Purchased (eBook from KOBO|Physical book from @warwick_books )

You can check out what I thought of the Reykjavik Noir series: Trap | Snare | Cage

Orenda Event – Manchester

I joined the zoom launch for Betrayal by Lilja Sigurdardottir and The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir. The event was introduced by Karen Sullivan. The authors were joined by the translators and Dr. Noir, Jacky Collins, sat in the interviewer chair.

If you would like to watch it’s up on YouTube Book Launch – Dr. Noir, Jacky Collins interviews Lilja Sigurdardottir, Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir and translators Victoria Cribb and Quentin Bates live on ZOOM to celebrate the publication of Lilja’s stunning standalone thriller BETRAYAL and Eva’s chillingly atmospheric THE CREAK ON THE STAIRS.

You can order your signed copies, whilst available, from partners for the event Warwick Books: WEBSITE: EMAIL: PHONE: 0192649993

Guess what I did? What! – even though you already had the eBooks? Well who can resist a signed edition especially with Lilja adding one of those lovely stamps? ❄️ Well, obviously 🙄, not me.🤷‍♀️


Published: Orenda Books (October 2020)

First published in Icelandic as Svik by Forlagið in 2018|First published in English by Orenda Books in 2020|Copyright © Lilja Sigurðardóttir, 2018|English translation copyright © Quentin Bates, 2020

Buy: Orenda Books|KOBO|Waterstones |AmazonSmileUK |Your local bookshop


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 seven crime novels, with Snare, the first in the Reykjavík Noir series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. Trap was published in 2018, and was a Guardian Book of the Year, and Cage, winner of Icelandic Crime Novel of the Year, followed in 2019. The film rights for the series have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. In 2020 Betrayal was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award for best Nordic crime novel. Lilja lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

Follow Lilja:

Twitter: @lilja1972|Instagram:|Facebook:|Website:


Steps (Spor), 2009
Forgiveness (Fyrirgefning), 2010
Snare (Gildran) 2015 (Reykjavík Noir 1)
Trap (Netið) 2016 (Reykjavík Noir 2)
Cage (Búrið) 2017 (Reykjavík Noir 3)
Betrayal (Svik) 2020/2018

Out now in Iceland 🇮🇸 Blódraudursjór English rights have been rights have been obtained by Orenda Books 🎉


Quentin Bates escaped English suburbia as a teenager, jumping at the chance of a gap year working in Iceland. For a variety of reasons, the gap year stretched to become a gap decade, during which time he went native in the north of Iceland, acquiring a new language, a new profession as a seaman and a family before decamping en masse for England.

He worked as a truck driver, teacher, netmaker and trawlerman at various times before falling into journalism largely by accident. He has been the technical editor of a nautical magazine for many years, all the while keeping a close eye on his second home in Iceland, before taking a sidestep into writing fiction. He is the author of a series of crime novels set in present-day Iceland (Frozen Out, Cold Steal, Chilled to the Bone, Winterlude, and Cold Comfort), which have been published in the UK, USA, Germany, Holland, Finland and Poland. He has translated a great deal of news and technical material into English from Icelandic, as well as novels.

Visit him at Quentin’s website or on Twitter.


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