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Wednesday, 9 March 2022

‘Cold as Hell’ by Lilja Sigurdardóttir

Translated by Quentin Bates.
Published by Orenda Books,
28 October 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-913193-88-1 (PB)

Áróra’s not on speaking terms with her sister, Ísafold, who returned to live in their father’s native Iceland, but when their mother loses contact with Ísafold, Áróra reluctantly agrees to go and find her... only to find that Ísafold seems to have disappeared. Her abusive boyfriend Björn says she left him, and the neighbours aren’t willing to talk ...

This page-turning thriller introduces Lilja’s many fans to a new heroine. Áróra is a finance sleuth by trade. It’s clear she was formerly close to her big sister, and protective of her. We gradually learn why they’ve become estranged and feel some of her frustration over Ísafold’s relationship with Bjorn. Returning to Iceland, Áróra starts to feel at home, and is drawn to her father’s ex-brother-in-law, an on-holiday cop that her mother enlists in the search. Daniel himself is a great character, the best sort of caring cop – but at the moment he’s busy trying to solve problems with elves in one corner of his garden.

Other fascinating characters are Bjorn’s neighbours, reclusive Grimur and warn-hearted Olga, who’s hiding a refugee from the authorities. The tangled relationships and revelations about the characters keep the plot twisting, the short chapters are quick to read, and the final twist is surprising and satisfying. The Icelandic summer setting is vividly evoked.

A fast-moving, atmospheric Icelandic whodunnit with a feisty heroine, a great cast of characters, clever plotting and a satisfying ending. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Lilja Sigurdardóttir  an Icelandic crime-writer 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, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

Click on the title to read a review of her recent book
The Shetland Sea Murders

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