Source: Review copy
Publication: Out now in e-book: Paperback 17th October 2019 from Orenda Books
Drugs, smuggling, big money and political intrigue in Iceland rally with love, passion, murder and betrayal until the winner takes all … in the masterful, explosive conclusion to the award-winning Reykjavík Noir trilogy…
The prison doors slam shut behind Agla, when her sentence 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 drug baron 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.
At the same time, a deadly threat to Sonya 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.
Lilja Sigurðardóttir writes with forensic precision about these crimes which destroy lives without compunction. All of Sigurðardóttir’s characters are indeed caged in one way or another. Agla is in jail, finally serving her sentence for the role she played in Iceland’s financial crash. As a bankster, she is despised but this will not stop her from resuming her business even before she is released. White collar crime is just as evil as drugs, yet those in authority view it as fair game; ‘there but for the grace of God’ is the maxim.
Sonja, Agla’s former lover, is now a major player in Iceland’s drug smuggling business. Now living in the London apartment of Mr Jose, the man whose empire she took over, she lives a haunted life in which she can trust no-one. She is constantly close bodyguard protected and spends most of her time plotting routes to bring her son, Tomas to her from his boarding school where he lives so that he can be protected from Sonja’s enemies.
María, meanwhile has gone from a well-paid job with a good marriage to living from hand to mouth. Her marriage imploded; she lost her job at the Public Prosecutor’s office and is now eking out a meagre living running an online investigative journalism site. Based in the run-down offices of Radio Edda, a poisonous, racist talk radio station which spews vileness over the airwaves, Maria simply can’t afford to go anywhere else.
Sigurðardóttir adds in a new layer to her list of crimes, that of the impact on young minds of constant exposure to racist ideology. Ingimar, still plotting and deeply involved in dodgy dealings, has a son who is in love with Júlía, a classmate. Anton is determined to protect and defend Júlía, and his plans will have a devastating impact on some of the key characters in this book.
Agla and Maria join forces to find out how Inigmar is conducting his hugely rewarding fraud involving the storage of aluminium. They have very different motives, but for once it makes sense to them to be on the same side – at least for now.
Cage is primarily Agla and Maria’s story. After years of being unsure, ashamed and finally head over heels in love with Sonja, Agla has embraced her sexuality, just in time to be cruelly cast off by Sonja. An encounter with a young drug addict awakens Agla’s first stirrings in a long time, but what, if any, are her chances of happiness?
Sigurðardóttir weaves a terrific story in which all these women, faced with terrifying adversity, manage to hold their own in world’s traditionally dominated by men. In some instances that makes them better criminals, but even then we see the devastating impact on their lives though we should not forget the victims of these crimes, too.
These characters are all in cages, some gilded, others not so much, but cages just the same.
As ever, the translation from Quentin Bates is sure footed and never loses that sense of Iceland as a clear character in this fascinating drama.
Verdict: Sigurðardóttir cleverly brings together all the threads of her trilogy in a beautifully woven tapestry that is testament to her excellent characterisation and forensic plotting skills. Fast paced action and danger abound in a satisfying conclusion to this excellent trilogy.
Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurðardóttir was born in the town of Akranes
in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning
playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, including Snare and Trap, the
first two books in the Reykjavik Noir trilogy, which have hit bestseller lists
worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California.
She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.