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…
The lives of these characters are about to collide in a shocking crescendo until the winner takes it all…
I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.
This is the final book in an Iceland Noir trilogy, which explores the underbelly of Iceland. The underworld of crime that appears to be gaining a foothold, as Iceland becomes increasingly globalised.
I haven’t read the previous two books in this trilogy, and so can only review the final book. Whilst I gained a taste of the ethos of the setting, and the motivations of the main characters, this would be more powerful, if you read the previous two books.
The story focuses on Agla, Maria, Sonja and Ingimar. characters featuring in the two previous books. The characters have experienced various fortunes as the story progresses, and in the main, they are not easy to empathise. Drugs, financial crime and stripping of natural resources are the main themes in this final part of the story. There is also a terrorist subplot which runs concurrently, but the connection with the other crimes is not immediately apparent.
The pacing is fast, and this makes it unique in Iceland and Scandinavian Noir, The plot is complex and original, and the characters. who are explored in some detail in this book are intriguing, if not likeable.
The ending is powerful.
Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir 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.
A witty and acerbic novel for our times about corporate greed, the hubris of bankers, contradictions of the clean energy economy and their unintended consequences on everyday people. Finance, environmentalism, rare-earth mining and human frailties collide in a complex of flawed motives. We follow Peter Mount, the self-made Chief Executive of a London-based rare-earth mining company as he and his business are buffeted by crisis-torn Royal Bank of Scotland and by his own actions, real and imagined. Meanwhile, in Oregon, Amy Tate and her group of local environmental activists do their contradictory part to undermine a component of the green economy, unwittingly super-charged by the Chinese state. The repercussions of events in pristine Oregon are felt in the corporate and financial corridors of New York and London with drastic consequences. This is a deeply involving novel about the current workings of capitalism, miscommunication, causes and unexpected effects, love and survival.
Another book, I would love to have read and reviewed, but sadly I did not have time, so sharing an amusing guest post from the author here instead:
Guest Post- Keith Carter-The Umbrella Men
How I came to publish my first novel – aged 60
I’m terrible at parties; I can’t ‘circulate’. It just seems so rude to change conversational groups: you must either slope off hoping no-one will notice, which is unlikely, or make an excuse – and mine always come out sounding like ‘I’ve just seen someone more interesting than you, so am off to talk with them instead’. So I normally end up stuck, talking to the dullest person at the party, the socially abler people (which is everyone else) having successfully ‘circulated’ away.
Oh, hang on – maybe that means I am the dullest person at the party…
So I’m going to let you in on a secret of mine. Call it Carter’s First Law of Social Awkwardness. It’s got me through many potentially disastrous situations of this sort, and states that: Everyone, including the dullest person in the room, knows something that you don’t. Make it your task is to find out what it is, and you won’t be bored. This works because
You might learn something, always a good thing and
You will end up talking with someone about the one topic on which they are an expert: themselves.
Carter’s First Law of Social Awkwardness is based on the commonly-held belief that ‘everyone has a book in them’. Fortunately, perhaps, most of these books will never be written. People have neither the skills nor the time. The Umbrella Men, my first novel, was written because suddenly I did have the time.
I made myself redundant. No, that sounds like I had more say in the matter than was the case; I was forced to make myself redundant. And the circumstances of it made me angry, which – with an associated need for catharsis – gave me the motivation as well as the opportunity to write the book.
My enforced self-redundancy was the consequence of a corporate loan taken out with a major bank in 2007, just before all the Lehman Brothers stuff kicked off. The long story is fictionalised The Umbrella Men; to cut it short, the bank was going rapidly and spectacularly bust and turned on its small business clients in a vain attempt at repairing its balance sheet. In the resulting chaos, companies went bust, people lost their livelihoods, marriages failed, suicides were contemplated. As CEO of one of these small bullied borrowers the buck stopped with me, so the solution involved my asking myself to leave the company.
That I, as a taxpayer, was then forced to play my part in saving that same bank, and that not a single senior banker faced criminal charges anywhere for this trillion-dollar global banker bail-out – only heightened my need to get this story out of me and onto the page.
Maybe I have your sympathy now; if so, here’s how to lose it: I was a banker myself once. It was a long time ago and I was a lot younger… The reason I am ’fessing up in this way is that this part of my history gives me an unusual (for an author) perspective on the banking scandal and the motivations – business and otherwise – that caused it. In other words, The Umbrella Men is informative as well as entertaining.
The job I was forced out of was a full-on 12-hours-a-day affair, so it left quite a hole. Like many people, I spent most of my working time in front of a computer screen. Diverting a good few of those newly-available 12 screen hours to writing was a good way of getting out from under my wife’s feet, and splendidly cathartic. I wrote in the basement at home, in cafés and bars, on a boat, on trains – wherever I was and could take my laptop. All the things I would dearly have loved to do to various bankers were suddenly in my power – albeit via a keyboard, not a baseball bat.
I’d like to say that I quickly hammered The Umbrella Men out in a few weeks, then, as a man with a burden lifted from his shoulders, skipped off to another project with a song on my lips. Far from it. It took years. There were loads of ‘excellent’ drafting and style ideas along the way, few of which survived the scrutiny of the morning-after reread. The fact that I am a slow and inaccurate typist doesn’t help; it does, however, fit perfectly with my inability to form a coherent sentence or find, for want of a better word, le mot juste first time around.
So, to those of you convinced that you have a book in you I say this: Carter’s First Law of Social Awkwardness says that you almost certainly have. Write it! All you need is the time and a whole load of pent-up emotion.
Keith Carter was born in Scotland to a Dutch mother and British father. He read Economics at Cambridge, taking a First in 1981 when he was elected a Scholar – too late to enjoy the privilege of walking on the grass. He worked as an investment banker before going straight and running a small pharmaceutical company. He is now a writer and business consultant and lives in East London with his daughters. He enjoys travel, politics and economics, reading and writing, languages, music, the English Lake District, sailing of all kinds and meals with family and friends. Keith suffered a spinal cord injury in March 2018 and since rides a wheelchair.
The only thing worse than finding out that your husband is dead is discovering the secrets he left behind.
Annabel’s seemingly perfect ex-patriate life in Geneva is shattered when her banker husband Matthew’s plane crashes in the Alps. When Annabel finds clues that his death may not be all it seems, she puts herself in the crosshairs of powerful enemies and questions whether she really knew her husband at all.
Meanwhile, journalist Marina is investigating Swiss United, the bank where Matthew worked. But when she uncovers evidence of a shocking global financial scandal that implicates someone close to home, she is forced to make an impossible choice.
Authentic detail, fast-paced action, and spine-tingling suspense make this international thriller absorbing and unputdownable. Succinctly introduced the key players seem unconnected at the outset but as tragedy strikes, their roles align and give the reader a realistic, contemporary thriller to enjoy.
Told from two points of view; Annabel, ‘The Banker’s Wife’ and Marina the society journalist find themselves up against the establishment and might of the international financial sector. One is personally affected, the other an objective observer, but lines are blurred, and both women put themselves in danger to find and reveal the truth and stop international corruption and murder.
A detailed plot demands concentration but the clues to solve the mysteries posed are there. The menacing ethos simmers in the background before exploding in the final chapters, making you wonder if the truth will come out and if the protagonists will live to see it.
The perfect weekend read.
I received a copy of this book from Mulholland Books – Hodder and Stoughton via NetGalley in return for an honest review.