A captivating new series from the award-winning international bestseller Lilja Sigurðardóttir
Estranged sisters Áróra and Ísafold live in different countries, and are not on speaking terms. When their mother loses contact with Ísafold, Áróra reluctantly returns to Iceland to look for her. But she soon realizes that her sister isn’t avoiding her … she has disappeared, without a trace.
As she confronts Ísafold’s abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend Björn, and begins to probe her sister’s reclusive neighbours – who have their own reasons for staying out of sight – Áróra is drawn into an ever-darker web of intrigue and manipulation.
Baffled by the conflicting details of her sister’s life, and blinded by the shiveringly bright midnight sun of the Icelandic summer, Áróra enlists the help of police officer Daníel, to help her track her sister’s movements, and tail Björn. But she isn’t the only one watching…
Cold as Hell is the first book in the An Áróra Investigation series by Lilja Sigurdardóttir translated by Quentin Bates and published by Orenda books in the U.K. I am absolutely delighted to be on the Blog Tour organised by Anne Cater of Random Things Tours.
When Áróra’s mother calls worried about her eldest daughter, Ísafold, she’s not very happy. She has got her sister out of several previous bad situations with her boyfriend and, after the last one, had washed her hands of it. No matter how many times she had tried to help Ísafold break free from the bad relationship with Björn back she went, every time.
This time though, as her mother detailed some worrying aspects and insisted Ísafold was missing, Áróra agreed that she would travel to Iceland, her father’s homeland and Ísafold’s home, to find out what has happened to her sister.
There are some wonderful characters in this book Áróra herself who, not without humour, is a woman on a mission and deadly serious about righting wrongs in the financial arena. She is tall and strong like many Icelandic women and unlike her older sister. Her father instilled this into her, how much strength she has both physically and mentally so this along with her mother’s concerns has made her determined to find Ísafold.
However, whilst she may be able to track down hidden money her skills in the world of finding people are not as developed. Enter ‘Uncle’ Daniel, a police officer. A well-written character Daniel, whose interactions with his neighbour Lady Gúgúlú are just a treat. He and Áróra quickly develop a good relationship. They work well together but also keep things to themselves. It’s a relationship which could easily develop into more, it will be interesting to see what happens through the series.
Some of their issues stem from Áróra striking up a friendship with a man under a great deal of suspicion with regards to his financial dealings. Unknown to Daniel there is more to this friendship than he realises but for a completely different reason. This storyline allows Áróra to use her expertise in the financial world to do what she does best and, for those of us who have read the trilogy, brings back a lovely cameo role from Agra who, I wonder, may have more of a role to play in the rest of the series?
Many of the other characters are found in the block of flats in which Ísafold lived with Björn. Quite the collection of folk who may only be ‘bit players’ in the overarching story but are given intriguing threads of their own allowing them to become more rounded characters. Who these people are, how they interact and what they know are important to understanding Ísafold and her story. To make them more than two dimensional characters brings a depth and richness to the book.
There is a profound sadness that pervades this book and it’s various threads which brings anger at individual events but even more so that we continue to live in a world that has such a capability for hurt and hurting. With Áróra we have someone who is bringing a little justice, a way of pushing back on at least some of the wrongdoings and which brings a glimmer of what we all need – hope.
Lilja Sigurdardóttir is, for me, the best in Icelandic noir her writing brings life not only to wonderful, dark stories but to the characters and its setting allowing the reader to be fully immersed in the world that she has created. And what a world Sigurdardóttir has created with the An Áróra Investigation series!
I have loved all of Lilja Sigurdardóttir previous books published in the U.K. And, just as you believe they can’t get any better, along comes Cold as Hell. It goes right up there as her best so far. Making this series one that I am sure will become a firm favourite. I eagerly await the next book.
The translation by Quentin Bates is, as ever, of a very high standard and as you read makes the book feel as though it was originally written in English.
Previous Book Thoughts
I receive an eARC when on a BlogTour, generally received before the book is published, in order to review it. Nevertheless, I have also then purchased an eCopy or paperback and Cold as Hell is no exception – I have purchased the book directly from Orenda Books in this instance.
My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invite to join this amazing BlogTour and to Orenda Books for an ecopy of Cold as Hell by Lilja Sigurdardóttir, translated by Quentin Bates.
Why not check out the rest of these amazing blogs and what they have thought about Cold as Hell?
Published: 28 OCTOBER 2021 | ORENDA BOOKS | PAPERBACK ORIGINAL | £8.99
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.
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 four crime novels, with Snare, her English debut shortlisting for the CWA International Dagger and hitting bestseller lists worldwide. Trap soon followed suit, with the third in the trilogy Cage winning the Best Icelandic Crime Novel of the Year, and was a Guardian Book of the Year. Lilja’s standalone Betrayal, was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja is also an award-winning screenwriter in her native Iceland. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.
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