book reviews · Bookish

Betrayal by Lilja Sigurðardóttir (Review)

Good afternoon everyone! Had some technical gremlins so it’s later in the day than I would have liked with this one – I ended up having to re-write it! But I am pleased to be bringing you a review of Betrayal by Lilja Sigurdardóttir, translated from Icelandic by Quentin Bates as part of another wonderful Orenda blog tour. Please be sure to check out the other awesome stops on the tour!

I received a copy of Betrayal for free for review purposes.

Betrayal is a standalone work of Icelandic Noir about corruption in politics as Úrsula, the newly promoted minister and former aid worker ends up unknowingly drawn in to a plot to benefit everyone aside from herself.

As soon as Úrsula is in office, she knows what she wants to get done in her year tenure at the ministry. Right off the bat, she makes a promise to a mother who is on tenterhooks about the progress of her daughters rape case, having no idea that there was far more to it than a police officer being the culprit as some of her colleagues attempt to hinder her at every juncture. She finds an unlikely acquaintance in Stella, whom shows Úrsula a place where she can smoke in private. A cleaner whom usually goes ignored.

I really liked the characters in Betrayal. Úrsula was so passionate and believable but also very human. Her driver, Gunnar who was very serious and clearly had far more to him than meets the eye – I’d have liked to have learned more about why he is the way he is. Stella. Rough around the edges. An alright sort whose done some bad things whom I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic towards.

Betrayal is well paced with short, punchy chapters that flip between the perspective of numerous characters as Úrsula works at the ministry to the best of her ability while receiving threats and tackling obstacles that are deliberately placed to hinder her. I felt really bad for Úrsula as it seemed she would not have an easy run. Often the point was made about having a woman as a minister and the portrayal of her in the media. It felt very believable. All in all, I really enjoyed Betrayal and following Úrsula on what turned out to be a very chaotic and short tenure as minister. I found it to be a compelling read.

About the Book

Burned out and traumatised by her horrifying experiences around the world, aid worker Úrsula has returned to Iceland. Unable to settle, she accepts a high-profile government role in which she hopes to make a difference again.

But on her first day in the post, Úrsula promises to help a mother seeking justice for her daughter, who had been raped by a policeman, and life in high office soon becomes much more harrowing than Úrsula could ever have imagined. A homeless man is stalking her – but is he hounding her, or warning her of some danger? And why has the death of her father in police custody so many years earlier reared its head again?

As Úrsula is drawn into dirty politics, facing increasingly deadly threats, the lives of her stalker, her bodyguard and even a witch-like cleaning lady intertwine. Small betrayals become large ones, and the stakes are raised ever higher…