Snare by Lilja Sigurðardóttir

last updated: 13 March 2018 (approximate reading time: 2 minutes; 388 words)

Have you heard of Lilja Sigurðardóttir?

No? Well, you have now 😄 so pay attention. In particular, pay attention to Snare. The book was originally published in her native Icelandic, but has been translated into English by Quentin Bates.

Simplistically, Snare is about Sonia, a mother who is forced to work as a drug mule smuggling cocaine into Iceland.

But the book is more than the simplistic surface tale—it is a multi-layered, multi-character/multiple point of view tale set in Iceland in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash.

At the center of the story is Sonia who has been caught in the snare of the title and is obligated to smuggle cocaine into Iceland. As the book unpicks how she was snared and how she is kept in the snare, seemingly clean black and white lines are blurred.

The professional and the personal lose their separation and we begin understand the characters through their acts, rather than through the labels that may be applied (wife, mother, divorcee, banker, father, lesbian, thug, investigator, border guard, and so on). Each step forward is a step into complexity where the moral center of gravity is ever shifting and the drug trade starts to have an attraction, even for the most morally upstanding. With each breakdown of a relationship, there is action and reaction—cause and effect, leading for further effect.

As a parallel to the drug business, there is the financial system and former high-flyers are under investigation for their crimes. The crimes committed by the bankers can be compared with, and measured against, the crimes committed by the drug dealers. While the white collar crime might seem to be more victimless, arguably the end effect of bankrupting an entire country had greater impact.

But the book doesn’t stretch for conclusions or try to make judgements. Instead it poses questions:

  • Is there an equivalence between white collar crime and drug crime?
  • Is the drug mule any less guilty in the drug business—especially the mule who makes repeat journeys, involves others, commits terrible acts, and seeks to cover their tracks?
  • Is crime more understandable if the motivations are clear? Is a crime perhaps more forgivable if the motivations are noble?

There are more books to come in the series (this is the first of a trilogy), but for now, check out Snare. 

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