Blog Tour Book Review

Blog Tour: Cage by Lilja Sigurdardóttir

cage

I absolutely adored the first two novels in Lilja Sigurdardóttir’s Reykjavik Noir trilogy – Snare and Trap – and I was thrilled to be invited to join the blog tour for the final instalment, Cage.

The prison doors slam shut behind Agla, when her sentence for financial misconduct ends, but her lover Sonja is not there to meet her.

As a group of foreign businessmen tries to draw Agla into an ingenious fraud that stretches from Iceland around the world, Agla and her former nemesis María find the stakes being raised at a terrifying speed. Ruthless entrepreneur Ingimar will stop at nothing to protect his empire, but he has no idea about the powder keg he is sitting on in his own home. And at the same time, a deadly threat to Sonja and her family brings her from London back to Iceland, where she needs to settle scores with longstanding adversaries if she wants to stay alive…

Cage is set six years after the events of Trap, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I was a little surprised at the direction it took.  While both Snare and Trap have focussed on both Sonja and Agla, I felt that Sonja took a step back in this final instalment.  She is still present, but the novel focusses much more on Agla’s story, bringing the tale of her involvement in the financial crisis and various business dealings to a conclusion.

Agla’s background, while perhaps not quite as adventurous as that of Sonja, has been fascinating throughout the series, and Cage opens with Agla in prison having almost completed her sentence.  She’s a morally dubious character, and never misses an opportunity to make a profit.  I didn’t get any sense that she regretted her past dealings, particularly given the financial benefits that they have resulted in.  Seeing Agla in prison and understanding more of her current circumstances makes her a more sympathetic character than she was in the first two novels, and I felt that this novel allowed her to finally accept herself for who she is.  I loved that despite her circumstances, she is still up to her old tricks when she is approached by a drinks consortium to join them as a consultant and to find out what is happening to the aluminium produced by Iceland.

This brings in Maria, a relatively minor character from the previous novel who has since moved into investigative journalism.  She and Agla have crossed paths (and swords) previously, and Maria seems hellbent on tarnishing Agla’s name further.  She reluctantly agrees to work with Agla, conscious of the potential for a story, and intrigued, despite herself.  Her investigation gets her into a whole world of trouble, but while there are some hairy moments, I struggled to sympathise with her.  Maria’s tale is one of “woe is me”, and while she regrets the choices she has made, I felt that she was the author of her own fate.  This storyline is a fascinating one, however, and I loved seeing the machinations of those involved come to light.  It’s a deeply satisfying thread in the novel.

Notably absent from these events is Sonja.  She appears in the book, but is a relatively minor character, and her circumstances took me by surprise.  She has spent the previous two novels trying to get out of the drug mule business, having been coerced into it many years earlier.  Her focus has always been her son, Tomas, and creating a safe life in which they can be together, free from the threats of her former employers.  It came as a surprise, therefore, when she seemed to have given up on this dream, still involved in the drugs trade (albeit in quite a different role) and with Tomas sent away to boarding school, their time together severely limited.  While it wasn’t clear to me exactly why she had given up on her previous goal, there was a sense of inevitability about it, and it was clear from the first novel that she had something of a talent for the drugs business.  She comes across as quite a different character in this novel, harder than she was previously, driven by circumstance into a trade that she wouldn’t have chosen otherwise, but perhaps lured by its lucrative nature.

Cage introduces a new thread to the narrative in the form of Ingimar’s son, Anton.  He’s a teenager experiencing first love, and is planning a special surprise for his girlfriend’s sixteenth birthday.  Anton’s story is one of those that you follow with equal parts dread and fascination as you know that it’s unlikely to turn out well.  Sigurdardóttir puts a fantastic little twist in this aspect of the novel, which I thought was brilliantly done.  It seems disparate to the other storylines initially, and yet it all comes together nicely by the end of the novel.

Sigurdardóttir’s trilogy is fantastic, and you really do need to read them from the beginning in order to get the most out of them.  I have to admit that I preferred both Snare and Trap, and I think that this is due to Sonja’s storyline which brought such tension to those novels.  That said, this is a deeply satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, and I loved seeing Agla’s story concluded, and in a way that I didn’t expect.

Cage is published by Orenda Books, and is available to buy in paperback and digital formats.  Many thanks to the publisher and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the review copy and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.


Make sure you check out the other fabulous bloggers on the tour:

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4 comments

  1. I loved Snare and Trap (if loved is the right word for books that are in places very dark and gritty) and have been looking forward to Cage being available in English for ages. It sounds from your review as if there is a missing link between this and the first two books though – as if this is the fourth book in the series, not the third. I suspect I’m going to find myself wanting to read something that fills in the gaps.
    Jane

    1. Give it a try. I think that there had to be a gap timewise, given Agla’s prison sentence, but I have to admit that when it came to Sonja, I had to go back to Trap to see if I’d mis-remembered what had happened there. As you say, it’s a dark and gritty series, and so I think that the outcome there had a sense of inevitability about it.

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