So, two things close to crimeworm’s heart are Orenda Books and Icelandic crime fiction – and as is often the case, this combines both. Here’s the lowdown…
The main premise of this story is the disappearance of a half Icelandic, half English woman called Ísafold. She lives in Reykjavik with her abusive fiancée, Bjorn. The story begins with her younger sister, Áróra, arriving in Iceland from her home in Edinburgh for the umpteenth time at the behest of her mother. Usually it’s because Bjorn’s beaten her sister up, but this time things could be more serious, as Ísafold hasn’t been in touch with their mother, nor has she posted on Facebook – most unlike her. So, yet again, Áróra reluctantly heads to Iceland, sure it’ll be another false alarm, and her sister will, despite any beatings and promises to the contrary, soon be heading back into the arms of the persuasive and repulsive Bjorn.
What about Áróra’s job? As that is woven into the storyline too, isn’t it?
Yes, it is – she tracks down missing money that people might have stolen from banks or the companies they work for, or be hiding from a spouse in a divorce case. She takes a cut of the retrieved assets – and she’s not too long in Iceland when she spots a possible case where her skills could be put to use. However, at this point she’s essentially dating the possible rogue she’ll be fleecing of his ill-gotten gains.
There’s plenty going on to keep Áróra busy in Reykjavik then – and there’s lots of other characters who come into the story, aren’t there?
Yes indeed! One thing I utterly adored about this book was that none of the characters were clichés – they were all slightly quirky, and, bizarrely, the book series this aspect put me most in mind of was the wonderful – and classic – Armistead Maupin’s Tales Of The City – a series I read more than twenty years ago, but which still gives me a warm feeling every time I think of it. Of course, it’s not crime fiction – but Lilja clearly knows, like Maupin, that characters have foibles, odd habits, and more going on in their lives than may appear at first glance. It adds to the depth of story, and really impressed me – I’ve described fellow Orenda alumni Rod Reynolds as a “natural writer,” and I’d put Lilja in the same bracket.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though…
No, certainly not – there’s also some funny moments too – one in particular sticks in my mind when Áróra falls off a table while attempting to install a piece of spyware in her mark’s ceiling, waking him – and has to explain her crashing to the floor as because she’s “just pissed” (which she definitely is!)
There’s also a possible romance on the cards for Áróra too – and not with the sexy but dodgy money launderer. But readers can discover that for themselves…
And the good news is…
The good news is, as well as being an utterly brilliant read, this is the start of a new series featuring Áróra – and hopefully some of her fellow characters from this opener!
Don’t miss this one!
My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me on this blog tour, as well as being really understanding when I was unwell, and Orenda Books for the eARC.
BLURB: Icelandic sisters Áróra and Ísafold live in different countries and aren‘t on speaking terms, but when their mother loses contact with Ísafold, Áróra reluctantly returns to Iceland to find her sister. But she soon realizes that her sister isn’t avoiding her … she has disappeared, without 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 led 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, as she tries to track her sister’s movements, and begins to tail Björn – but she isn’t the only one watching…
Slick, tense, atmospheric and superbly plotted, Cold as Hell marks the start of a riveting, addictive new series from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.