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Cold as Hell: The breakout bestseller, first in the addictive An Áróra Investigation series Kindle Edition
Áróra returns to Iceland when her estranged sister goes missing, and her search leads to places she could never have imagined. A chilling, tense thriller – FIRST in an addictive, nerve-shattering new series – from one of Iceland’s bestselling authors…
‘Icelandic crime writing at its finest … immersive and unnerving’ Shari Lapena
‘Best-selling Icelandic crime-writer Sigurðardóttir has built a formidable reputation with just four novels, but here she introduces a new protagonist who is set to cement her legacy’ Daily Mail
‘Another bleak, unpredictable classic’ Metro
**Winner: Best Icelandic Crime Novel of the Year**
Icelandic sisters Áróra and Ísafold live in different countries and aren‘t on speaking terms, but when their mother loses contact with Ísafold, Áróra reluctantly returns to Iceland to find her sister. But she soon realises that her sister isn’t avoiding her … she has disappeared, without trace.
As she confronts Ísafold’s abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend Björn, and begins to probe her sister’s reclusive neighbours – who have their own reasons for staying out of sight – Áróra is led into an ever-darker web of intrigue and manipulation.
Baffled by the conflicting details of her sister’s life, and blinded by the shiveringly bright midnight sun of the Icelandic summer, Áróra enlists the help of police officer Daníel, as she tries to track her sister’s movements, and begins to tail Björn – but she isn’t the only one watching…
Slick, tense, atmospheric and superbly plotted, Cold as Hell marks the start of a riveting, addictive new series from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.
‘Lilja Sigurðardóttir doesn’t write cookie-cutter crime novels. She is aware that “the fundamentals of existence are totally incomprehensible and chaotic”: anything can and does happen … Isn’t that what all crime writers should aim for?’ The Times
‘Lilja is a standout voice in Icelandic Noir, and this book does not disappoint … Cold as Hell is her best yet’ James Oswald
‘Domestic abuse, high-finance hanky-panky, and illegal immigration all figure in this arresting series launch … sure to please Scandi noir fans’ Publishers Weekly
‘So atmospheric’ Crime Monthly
‘Intricate, enthralling and very moving – a wonderful crime novel’ William Ryan
‘Three things we love about Cold as Hell: Iceland’s unrelenting midnight sun; the gritty Nordic murder mystery; the peculiar and bewitching characters’ Apple Books
‘Lilja Sigurðardóttir just gets better and better … Áróra is a wonderful character: unique, passionate, unpredictable and very real’ Michael Ridpath
Praise for Lilja Sigurðardóttir
'Smart writing with a strongly beating heart' Big Issue
'Tough, uncompromising and unsettling' Val McDermid
'Tense and pacey' Guardian
'Deftly plotted' Financial Times
‘An emotional suspense rollercoaster’ Alexandra Sokoloff
'Tense, edgy and delivering more than a few unexpected twists and turns' Sunday Times
‘The intricate plot is breathtakingly original, with many twists and turns you never see coming. Thriller of the year’ New York Journal of Books
'Taut, gritty and thoroughly absorbing' Booklist
'A stunning addition to the icy-cold crime genre' Foreword Reviews
For fans of Katrine Engberg, Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir, Arne Dahl and Sarah Vaughan
"Reading Cold as Hell sometimes gives you "the bizarre feeling of having been struck by a hand that had previously been so gentle". Isn't that what all crime writers should aim for? The good news, my "cuddle dumplings", is that Arora will be back." --Times
"Thriller of the year." --New York Journal of Books on Snare
"Sigurdardóttir's secret sauce is constructing satisfying narratives from diaphanous stands of plot and fleeting glimpses of her characters' contrary natures. The result? Another bleak, unpredictable classic." --Metro
"fans of Nordic noir will find plenty to like." --Publishers Weekly on Trap
"[A] lively conclusion...Fans already invested in this Nordic crime series will race through the pages."-- Publishers Weekly on Cage
"A taut, gritty, thoroughly absorbing journey into Reykjavik's underworld." --Booklist on Snare
"Prime binge-reading." --Booklist on Trap
"Sigurðardóttir knows how to ratchet up the tension...[Trap] is a worthy addition to the icy-cold crime genre popularized by Scandinavian noir novels." --Foreword Reviews on Trap
"Tough, uncompromising and unsettling." --Val McDermid on Betrayal
"With its clever plot and brisk, tight pace, this hard-to-put-down Nordic thriller will be a treat for crime fiction fans." --Library Journal on Snare
About the Author
- ASIN : B08WRJXYGY
- Publisher : ORENDA BOOKS (28 August 2021)
- Language : English
- File size : 3087 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 292 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 14,098 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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This book is set in Iceland, with its lava fields, cold summers, and the midnight sun. There Arora encounters a sinister cast of characters as she searches for her missing sister, Isafold. It soon becomes clear that Isafold is not hiding from her sister and mother, but that something terrible may have happened.
The characters of this story are unusual and some of them are creepy and sinister. There is intrigue, we are given insights and speculate about the characters and how they are connected to Isafold's disappearance, but nothing is clear until the end. There are a couple of surprises.
This book was compelling. It's my introduction to the writing of Lilja Sigurdardottir, courtesy of a free advanced reader copy, and I'll be seeking out more of her books.
A thoroughly engrossing read.
I noticed the following. The translation was good with only one sentence i had to read twice. Why have extended bits in italics when it is harder to read, and the content was confusing and misleading. The book tailed away a bit at the end as the multiple plots had to be concluded after the major twist.
If you like Nordic noir and a strong female lead this book will tick all the boxes
Top reviews from other countries
This is, in essence, the story of a missing person. Receiving a call from her mother, Áróra returns to the country of her birth, a country she can no longer identify with as home, in a bid to find her sister, Ísafold, who has seemingly vanished without a trace. At the very least she has failed to keep in contact with their mother, something which is very out of character for her. We follow Áróra as she tries to track her sister's movements, navigating her world, tracking her extended family and speaking to her neighbours in a bid to find out what has happened since their mother lost contact. Her investigations reveal some worrying truths about Ísafold's relationship, but do they bring her any closer to discovering the truth. Meanwhile, someone is working hard to keep a dark secret, one which drew me deeper into the story. And there are more reasons why Ísafold's neighbours are being so evasive, reasons which draw directly upon a very relatable and all too common issue of the modern world.
What I love about Lilja Sigurðardóttir's writing is that she creates characters that I may not always like, I may not always approve of the actions, but in whom I become so invested that I am pulled deeper into the story. That is certainly the case in Cold As Hell and in Áróra we have a protagonist who is quite spiky, almost selfish in outlook at times, her reluctance in tracing her sister almost halting her investigations before they begin. But there is another side to Áróra as just as you think you have her figured out, that deeper emotional core, the one she tries to hide, is brought to the fore. Beyond it all, she is quite astute, and the kind of character that gets under your skin, leaving me admiring her strength and intelligence. She is an intriguing character, one who I could identify with in many ways, but one who felt real, three dimensional, and authentic. The people around her, the people on the periphery of her investigations all add to the story in their own ways, all unique personalities who range from the obsessional to the emotional and everything in between. There is a clear chemistry between Áróra and her 'not-quite' Uncle, Daníel, one that never quite peaks for a variety of reasons. It's something I'll be interested to see if the author explores further in future books.
Exploring the refugee situation, coercive control, fraud and the themes of family, love and, ultimately, revenge, this book brought forth a range of emotions and kept me immersed in its pages from start to finish. For fans of the author's other books you may recognise the odd character or two, and whilst only one the edges of this particular story I have a feeling they could well make a return. It brings a nice sense of familiarity to the book, a sense of the interconnected nature of both the characters in this story and the country as a whole. Iceland may be a small island, and the communities that Ísafold engaged with may well have been limited in size and number, but the author has an ability to bring them to life, to make you feel every twist and turn of the volcanic and city landscapes, all of which adds to the sense of desolation that flows throughout the story. It is very effective and for every moment of light within the story, you have an equal moment of darkness and brooding where the stark truth of this sad tale come to mind. A nod to translator Quentin Bates who has enabled that image of the landscape to flow perfectly in English, giving even the least geographically aware reader a real sense of setting.
Whilst there is a kind of sad inevitability about this story, there was, for me at least, a kind of excitement about what is yet to come. In just one book Áróra has proven her ability to upset the status quo, to challenge corruption, at least if there is something in it for her, and to make a real impression on those around her. This has been another beautifully crafted mystery, powered by authentic characters, well balanced emotional drive and intrigue, atmospheric setting and top notch storytelling. Roll on book two.
The chilling prologue sets the scene perfectly for what follows; this isn't high-octane thriller but the slower pace allows for a masterful character study and an atmospheric, tense exploration of what really happens behind closed doors. Áróra and Ísafold might have shared the same upbringing but they have ended up divided by their dual nationalities and while Áróra - lovingly nicknamed the troll by her father - has remained in England, Ísafold - the elf - has always been more drawn to Iceland. The sisters are no longer close so it's a begrudging Áróra who agrees to their mother's plea to discover why Ísafold has seemingly disappeared.
Áróra is in the intriguing position of belonging and yet still being an outsider in Iceland and it's her observations of the country's customs and quirks which help give the novel its excellent sense of place - praise must be given here to Quentin Bates who as always has provided a seamless translation of the book. She joins forces with Daniel, who her mother describes as her cousin - although the truth isn't quite as straightforward - and the fascinating relationship that develops between the pair sparks with sexual tension. However, she makes life difficult for herself here too but as she learns more about her sister, she perhaps begins to understand more about herself as well and I'm looking forward to seeing how her character evolves as the series progresses.
Lilja Sigurdardóttir's nuanced understanding of people shines throughout the book; Áróra appears to be a rather ruthless character at times, particularly when she senses the opportunity to expose a financial crime and to make money herself, and yet there's a vulnerability to her too. She isn't the only person keeping things from others however, and the apartment block where Ísafold was last known to be living is teeming with secrets. Readers are always one step ahead of the investigation and there are several scenes which follow a character who clearly knows what happened to Ísafold and who is still watching her former boyfriend, Björn. Meanwhile, in another flat, Olga has her own reasons for fearing the police investigating the block too closely but what is she risking by keeping somebody else's secrets alongside her own? Iceland might be a remote island but it becomes evident that it still has to figure out how to manage issues which affect the global community and as with other countries, the political and the humanitarian don't always align here as they should.
Lilja Sigurdardóttir weaves a beautifully descriptive, melancholic story of fear, guilt and a need to belong. This is everything Nordic Noir should be; a tense, uncompromising look at hidden lives and dark secrets. I can't give anything away about the ending but it's the perfect way to finish this book while leaving me salivating for more. Bleakly evocative and heartbreakingly insightful; I loved every word.
Áróra has never seen quite eye to eye with her sister, Ísafold, but when Ísafold drops all contact, her mother pleads with her to travel to Iceland to try and find out what has happened. Áróra isn’t as keen to track down her missing sister as her mother is. When Áróra travels to Iceland she has no idea what she will find. It is clear as she starts looking into what has happened to her sister, that there is something sinister behind Ísafold’s disappearance.
The characterization in Cold as Hell is brilliant. I was interested in Áróra and Ísafold’s relationship and why they had both taken very different paths in life. Áróra is living in the UK with her British mother, but Ísafold is living in Iceland with her boyfriend. There are many strange individuals in Ísafold’s close neighbourhood, and it seems that she was hanging out with some very unsavoury characters. There are some sinister scenes told from the point of view of a mysterious individual who seems to know more about what has happened to Ísafold. I wanted to know what their connection was to Ísafold’s disappearance, what role if any had they played? I also wanted to know more about Ísafold’s boyfriend and if he had any connection to what had happened.
There is a lot of emotional depth in this book which is what I really liked; it made the characters really come to life. As Áróra begins to understand that something terrible might have happened to her sister, this causes her to feel a lot of guilt. She is desperate to know what has happened to her and where she is now.
The story moves along at a fast pace and the mystery comes together really well. This is the perfect read to lose a cold, wintry afternoon to. The Icelandic landscape and the characters will pull you into the story. Once again Lilja Sigurðardóttir has created a cast of unforgettable characters and I can’t wait to see where she takes them next in this series. I highly recommend Cold as Hell.
Árora is an intelligent and feisty central character, which is just how I like them. The situation in which she finds herself also makes her vulnerable which allowed us to see another side to her character and I am looking forward to seeing how this develops as the series continues.
Cold As Hell is a complex story that explores some interesting and important issues. It's brilliantly written in such an engaging way and I did not want to put the book down or leave it behind after I finished.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 29 January 2022