#RivetingReviews: Max Easterman reviews TRAP by Lilja Sigurðardóttir

‘It’s never good for an Icelander to dream of sea ice, she thought. That means a hard spring to come, and ice brings bears.’

There are bears aplenty for Sonja Gunnarsdóttir in Trap, the second in Lilja Sigurðardóttir’s Reyjavík Noirseries – and it’s in every way as tense and compelling a read as its predecessor. At the end of Snare (reviewed in December 2017), we left Sonja in Florida, whither she had fled with her son Tómas to escape her life as a drugs mule and her grade-A nemesis of a former husband, Adam, who had custody of the boy. So, as Trap opens, there are a number of ‘bears’ out to track Sonja down and exact vengeance for her disappearance. She rapidly finds herself back in Iceland, back in hock to the drugs barons and back to life without Tómas, locked in another battle with Adam and a host of other undesirables – including ‘Rikki the Sponge’ (she soon enough learns the origin of this moniker – to her extreme discomfort) and, bizarrely, a tiger …

Her former female lover, Agla, is also in trouble, awaiting a prison sentence for her part in the Icelandic banking crash; and, moreover, owing a lot of money to some powerful men, who are determined to get it back. Although Sonja doesn’t want to see Agla again, their destinies are entwined, and for both women, the trap is ever tighter. Sonja can see no escape:

‘… she wanted to make it plain that she understood and agreed with everything they said … She tried to stand but her legs refused to obey, and she was still weak with terror, so weak, in fact, that her mind hadn’t even got as far as comprehending the humiliation of having wet herself.’

Once again, Lilja Sigurðardóttir writes with pace and intensity, switching rapidly between scenes and places, from Greenland to Paris to London to Mexico and back to an Iceland suddenly swathed in volcanic ash from the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, which so effectively brings international air travel to an abrupt halt – including Sonja’s! The route is strewn with surprises and intrigues as tense as a coke-mule’s stomach, all brought out in Quentin Bates’ virtuoso translation: 

‘“Please step aside for a moment.” In an instinctive movement, she shrank back from him, and although her mouth opened, no sound came from between her lips … it took only two or three seconds to shut her mouth and continue along the jetway as she realised that the customs team were speaking not to her but to the man behind her …’

In the end, customs officers are the least of Sonja’s problems; she realises that running drugs has become more dangerous than ever before, as it moves inexorably into the world of hi-tech. 

At no point did I ever doubt the authenticity of Sigurðardóttir’s characters – their lives, loves, pleasures and nastinesses fit each strand of the story perfectly, and, as in Snare, each individual story (not to mention that tiger!) is seamlessly woven into a truly ripping yarn. 

Reviewed by Max Easterman

TRAP

Written by Lilja Sigurðardóttir

Translated from the Icelandic by Quentin Bates

Published by Orenda Books (October 2018)


Max Easterman is a journalist – he spent 25 years as a senior broadcaster with the BBC – university  lecturer, translator, media trainer with ‘Sounds Right’, jazz musician and writer.

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of EVIL THINGS by Katja Ivar

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of THE COLD SUMMER by Gianrico Carofiglio

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of DAMNATION by Peter Beck

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of INHUMAN RESOURCES by Pierre Lemaitre

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of BABY BLUE by Pol Koutsakis

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of MACBETH by Jo Nesbø

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of SHTETL LOVE SONG by Grigory Kanovich

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of WHITEOUT by Ragnar Jónasson

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of SNARE by Lilja Sigurðardóttir

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of CURSED by Thomas Enger

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of THE WINTER QUEEN by Boris Akunin

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of THE REVOLUTION OF THE MOON by Andrea Camilleri

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of FAITHLESS by Kjell Ola Dahl

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of CRIMES OF WINTER – VARIATIONS ON ADULTERY AND VENIAL SINS by Phillippe Georget

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of ATHENIAN BLUES by Pol Koutsakis

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of EXPOSURE by Aga Lesiewicz

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of THE TRUTH AND OTHER LIES by Sascha Arango

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of AUNTIE POLDI AND THE SICILIAN LIONS by Mario Giordano

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of RAGE by Zygmunt Miłoszewski

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of WALPURG TIDE by Jógvan Isaksen

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of A FINE LINE by Gianrico Carofiglio

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of DIVORCE TURKISH STYLE by Esmahan Aykol

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of NIGHTBLIND by Ragnar Jónasson

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of THE DEFENCELESS by Kati Hiekkapelto

Read Max Easterman’s #RivetingReview of THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB by David Lagercrantz

Category: March 2019Reviews

Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *