The latest red-hot Icelandi-crime must-read…

Who hasn’t at some point seriously considered the importation or retail of drugs as a short cut solution to life’s tougher financial challenges? Anyone thinking of greenlighting such an enterprise would benefit from first reading Snare.

Top marks for guessing from the arrangement of letters in the author’s surname that the book is set in Iceland (Siguretc. also spent time in Mexico, Spain and Sweden as a child). Potential novice traffickers, however, should note that the experience of moving a few kilos of “beak” through customs at quaint and tiny Keflavik International quickens the circulation just as inconveniently (and thrillingly for the reader) as at any of the busier hubs.

Protagonist Sonja is the mule/entrepreneur, driven to the racket by a need to win back custody of her son from her recently divorced husband (being caught in bed with one of her husband’s senior female colleagues didn’t help her case).

Respectable and intelligent, her new business direction throws her into competition and partnership with some of Iceland’s less upstanding citizens. And this in a country where such types are plentiful, given that the book is set just after the 2008 financial crisis, when even the country’s Prime Minister was revealed to have had his hands deep in the till. Sonja’s real nemesis, though, is customs agent Inspector Bragi, who grows suspicious at this well-dressed woman flying a little too frequently for his liking.

Agreeably Nordic, pacey yet original, with an assured cranking of tension, a fabulous late twist and the recently erupted Eyjafjallajökull volcano (still unpronounceable after all these years) providing quality atmos., this rattlingly good read could only be improved if this were the first in a trilogy. And it is!

What does the title mean?
It refers to the easy-to-enter, tricky-to-leave nature of a career in the wholesaling of narcotics.

Is it a rollercoaster?
You know it.

Has she written 2 and 3 yet?
Snare was published in 2015 in Icelandic, where follow-ups Tangle and Cage are already out.

What do reviewers agree on?

  • It was an unusual experience to find themselves cheering on the drug smuggler.
  • That Iceland has an unbelievably high ratio of great crime writers for such a tiny pop.
  • That the author is very strong on the details of the banking collapse.

Want more quality Icelandi-noir from authors with names you don’t know how to pronounce? If yes, try…

  • Silence of the Sea by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
  • Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indriðason
  • Season of the Witch by Árni Þórarinsson

Snare, by Lilja Sigurdardottir. Orenda, £8.99