The second book in Lilja Sigurðardóttir’s excellent Reykjavík Noir Trilogy, Trap opens with Sonja living in the States with her son, Tómas. When ex-husband Adam grabs their son, he forces Sonja to choose between giving up Tómas completely or returning to Iceland and the life she left behind. Enmeshed once again in Iceland’s drug trade, Sonja fights to free Tómas and herself from the hold that Adam and others have over them.

Unravelling against the backdrop of Iceland’s floundering economy and the gloom and uncertainty of the volcanic eruptions, Trap shows how even the best of people can be driven to do the unthinkable under the right combination of circumstances. Many of Sigurðardóttir’s characters do what they do for love: Sonja for her son, Agla for Sonja, customs officer Bragi for his ailing wife – even the rather despicable Adam loves Tómas, although arguably money and power are also motivating factors for his actions.

What’s interesting about Trap is that, although character-driven, most of the people we meet are not likeable, often working to their own less than admirable agendas. Yet somehow the author makes us care for them: we root for them, wanting them to beat the odds, even when they have perpetrated the most appalling of crimes.

A fast-paced, action-led book, Trap has a tight plot and authentic characterisation. And, of course, all credit must go to Quentin Bates for a seamless translation.

Yet another win for Orenda.


Music, a little bit of salsa: Celia Cruz’s ‘Quimbara‘; Oscar D’Leon’s ‘Llorerás’; Joe Cuba Sexteto & Cheo Feliciano’s ‘El Raton‘.


Trap | Orenda Books | October 2018 | paperback | £8.99 | other editions available

See: Lilja Sigurðardóttir: The Literary Lounge Q&A

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Acknowledgements: This review is published as part of the Trap virtual book tour, along with a Q&A with the author. Many thanks to the author for sparing us the time, lovely Anne Cater for organising the tour and the publisher for supplying a book proof. All thoughts and opinions are our own. Image courtesy of the publisher.


Select The Literary Lounge Q&As/interviews:  ‘Tom Cox’; ‘Vanda Symon; ‘Gunnar Staalesen’; Some like it hot – the joy of Carole Mortimer, award-winning novelist‘; Gina Kirkham;John Fairfax’; ‘Ian Ridley’;  ‘David Stuart Davies’.

Select reviews: Robert Olen Butler’s stylish Paris in the DarkLouise Voss’s The Old You”; ”; ‘Beautiful words – The Language of Secrets‘;‘Chris Whitaker’s mad, mad world – Tall Oaks’; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir’; ‘Johana Gustawsson’s Keeper – indie publisher Orenda does it again‘; ‘We should all be feminists’; ‘Jane Harper’s stylish debut – The Dry’; ‘Mallory an old-style hero – It Happens in the Dark by Carol O’Connell’.

Film and music: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) – a Billy Wilder classic?; Night Mail (1936), changing the face of British film; A Colour Box by Len Lye (1935); The Splendour of George Stevens’ Giant (1956);  ‘Gwyneth Herbert’s Letters I Haven’t Written‘;Amethysts and flowers on the table, the beauty of Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie and Lowell‘; ‘Dreams of love’, Bert Jansch’.



This review is © 2018 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.




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