Book Review

Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir


I loved the sound of Snare when I first came across it.  Its premise struck me as being different to anything else I’ve read, and I was intrigued by the premise of a woman forced into the role of drug mule, wondering how someone might find themselves in that position.

Following her divorce, Sonja finds herself in debt to the kinds of people that you really don’t want to be indebted to.  Coerced into smuggling drugs into Iceland, she finds that she has something of a flair for it, always making sure that she has a plan as well as a backup plan should things go awry.  She is able to save up some money, under the cover of running a computer company, and longs for nothing more than making her final smuggling trip and regaining custody of her son.  Of course, the point at which her debt will be repaid is unclear, and her threats to stop are met with threats to her son’s wellbeing.

With the shipments becoming increasingly bigger, she finds herself being singled out by customs officer, Bragi, who’s convinced that there is more to her than a lady who frequently travels abroad for business.

Sonja is a fantastic character, and one that I was immediately taken with.  Her situation is horrific, and I thought that the alternating feelings of rage, fear, and resigned acceptance were brilliantly portrayed as she tries, unsuccessfully, to escape from the situation she finds herself in.  The people she works for give no indication of when, if ever, her debt might be repaid, and seeing her capabilities, force her into smuggling in ever larger shipments into the country.  And if she refuses?  Well, they know where her son is… She really is between a rock and a hard place, and I can’t imagine what I’d do in that situation.

Another complication in Sonja’s life, not that she needs it, is her relationship with Agla.  Agla worked with Sonja’s husband, who found them in a compromising situation one day, thus triggering the divorce.  Now under investigation for her involvement in activities contributing to the Icelandic financial crash, Agla seems to be in denial about her sexual preferences, often turning up at Sonja’s house drunk and in need of comfort, but running away the following morning.  I thought that their relationship was shown brilliantly, and I loved the few tender moments between them, before Agla’s shame made her say something hurtful to Sonja.  The backdrop of an Iceland following on from the financial crash also brings the setting to life, and I found the investigation into Agla and her colleagues to be a fascinating parallel storyline.

I thought that Snare was fantastic.  It moves along quickly, and whilst you might think that reading about someone making repeated runs abroad in order to smuggle drugs in their country might become repetitive, I loved how inventive Sonja was in her plans.  And the pace moves quickly, as things become increasingly difficult for Sonja as well as the investigation into Agla and her colleagues, eventually leading to prosecutions.  There is also a brilliant twist later in the novel that took me by surprise, but that I thought worked brilliantly.  This is a brilliant, original novel, and I can’t wait to read the second instalment, Trap, which is published in October.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐


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