Hello, Book Dragons! Today I would like to welcome you all on my stop of the Blog Tour for Betrayal By Lilja Sigurdardottir and I would like to share an extract from the book, with all of you. Thank you very much to Anne from Random Things Tours for the invitation. Please do show some love to all the wonderful book bloggers on this blog tour by following and sharing their work. 🙂
Publisher: Orenda Books
Release date: 01 10 2020
Price*: Kindle £3.79 (GBP)/ Paperback £8.99(GBP)
Kindle $7.99 (USD)/ Paperback $15.95 (USD)
Pages: ~ 276
You can get this book here:
Description of the book: Burned out and traumatised by her horrifying experiences around the world, aid worker Úrsula has returned to Iceland. Unable to settle, she accepts a high-profile government role in which she hopes to make a difference again.
But on her first day in the post, Úrsula promises to help a mother seeking justice for her daughter, who had been raped by a policeman, and life in high office soon becomes much more harrowing than Úrsula could ever have imagined. A homeless man is stalking her – but is he hounding her, or warning her of some danger? And why has the death of her father in police custody so many years earlier reared its head again?
As Úrsula is drawn into dirty politics, facing increasingly deadly threats, the lives of her stalker, her bodyguard and even a witch-like cleaning lady intertwine. Small betrayals become large ones, and the stakes are raised ever higher…
There had been a strange crackle of tension in the air the whole of the previous day, and Stella was still feeling its effects. Everyone went about their work more quietly than usual, and there had been more couriers and journalists about the place than usual.
The receptionist downstairs had asked Stella to mop the lobby especially thoroughly because of the snow that was brought in on coats and the soles of shoes, and melted into muddy pools on the floor. She did her best, making the occasional quick sortie downstairs with a mop to wipe up the worst of the water. She didn’t want to be caught out not doing as she had been asked, as that would undoubtedly end up with the permanent secretary being called, as he seemed to be the top dog here. Stella found him frightening. She had encountered him once, when he had said hello, welcoming her to the ministry when she had started a few months ago. He had smiled amiably, but Stella had wanted to turn on her heel and run as fast as she could, as the touch of his hot hand gave her a feeling of pure, clear misery. This had taken her by surprise, as he seemed to be a man to whom life had been generous – tall, handsome with a senior job – so the dark sadness she sensed from him didn’t fit. Or maybe this sensitivity of hers was playing tricks on her. Her mother had always said that the gift she had inherited from her grandmother had come with a generous portion of imagination.
‘It’s always like this when there’s a new minister,’ the receptionist said. ‘Everyone’s stressed and worried, and then it turns out that the new minister is always lovely. I saw her yesterday when she came to collect the key and she seemed relaxed and cheerful.’
Stella shrugged. She had hardly had anything to do with the former minister; she’d only ever seen him hurrying along the corridors with a phone clamped to his ear. He had never spoken to her, and neither would the new minister. The receptionist was different, as everyone said hello when they came in, but cleaners were as good as invisible.
‘Well, she’s here,’ she heard people say as she passed by, emptying the bins. ‘Have you seen her yet?’
The new minister was in the building and had started work, but nobody seemed to have caught sight of her. She would probably not address the ministry staff until tomorrow, but people were sure they would recognise her, as last night’s news covered the change of minister and there had been a short clip in which she was holding the key.
Some people seemed to know her from her background in student politics, and someone mentioned that she had worked with refugees in foreign countries, organising aid in disaster areas, or something like that. But Stella neither watched the news nor read newspapers, so she knew nothing about this woman; she’d never even heard her name before.
It wasn’t a bad place to work, but Stella realised that she wouldn’t be here for long. Her job was part of a temporary initiative for young people who had ‘come off the rails’, and social security paid half of their wages. Mopping the corridors of the city’s smartest buildings was supposed to be a way of getting people’s lives back on track. The ministry’s staff had accepted her; they were clearly accustomed to having people in the building doing things nobody quite understood. After the first week she seemed to blend into the daily routine and nobody paid her any attention anymore. She liked that. She also liked the fact that as long as she kept the lobby floor dry and emptied the bins on the third and fourth floors, nobody was aware that she was there, as long as she punched herself in and out morning and afternoon. At the end of the day a bunch of people appeared from some big cleaning contractor and cleaned the whole ministry, so what Stella did or didn’t do made little difference. It was the easiest job she had ever had, and she had plenty to compare it against: in her nineteen years she had been through any number of jobs.
Her phone buzzed and she put the mop aside.
Party at our place tonight! read the message from Anna.
She didn’t check to see which Anna it was from. It didn’t matter. They were a couple, both called Anna. They were known as the Annas and threw regular lavish parties to which they invited only ‘cute, exciting’ girls. Stella knew that the colour of her skin alone put her in the right category; it was as if her golden-brown colouring worked like a magnet for lots of women. Normally she was quite happy to benefit from one of the few advantages of being one of the tiny minority of brown Icelanders. But after the last party the two Annas had thrown it had taken her a week to recover, and she had promised herself never to go back. But now it was Friday, and she was skint, with nothing to do but stay in her room and watch Netflix on the computer, so it didn’t seem such a bad idea. What else were weekends for if not having a little fun?
I’m busy and will be late, if I can get there at all, she wrote back. It didn’t do any harm to pretend that she actually had a social life; it added to her mystery. And anyway, she preferred to turn up late, when things were already in full swing and everyone had knocked back a few drinks. That way she wouldn’t have to hold any conversations. She always felt that she was more in control that way, although she knew deep down that once she had put away some of what was on offer she was as good as out of control. That was even without the Annas passing around the smarties.
She ran her fingers over the new Helm of Awe tattooed on her forearm, hoping it would protect her from drinking herself into a stupor and going home with someone she really didn’t want; such as the news reporter the Annas always invited and who was clearly in the ‘exciting’ class – courtesy of her TV fame, as she certainly wasn’t cute. Stella harboured a suspicion that the Annas were trying to pair her up with this woman, but her enthusiasm for this was precisely zero. Pondering this, she pushed the cleaning trolley ahead of her along the corridor and practically ran into a woman. The woman took hold of the trolley and stopped it with a laugh.
She extended a hand.
‘I’m the new minister,’ the woman said, and dropped her voice to a whisper. ‘I don’t suppose you can tell me where someone could sneak out for a quiet smoke?’
The speech that Permanent Secretary Óðinn had made earlier that day, emphasising that staff, whatever their political persuasion, were here to assist the minister in shouldering a great responsibility, came to Stella’s mind. So she took the minister to the fourth floor balcony, where she herself went to smoke. The minister could hardly be expected to shoulder all that responsibility without an occasional puff.
About the author: 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, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.
Twitter: @lilja1972 / Website: liljawriter.com
*-the price was taken from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com on the current date. The price might change at the time of your purchase. The links used in this post for book purchases are affiliates.