Title – Deceit
Author – Jónína Leósdóttir (translated by Quentin Bates & Sylvia Bates)
Published – October 2022 (in English translation)
Genre – Crime fiction
Deceit is Leósdóttir’s first book to be published in English, the translation brought to us by the partnership of publisher Corylus Books and author/translator Quentin Bates. It’s the first book in a new Icelandic crime series about detective Soffía and her ex-husband, Adam, a psychologist who helps the police during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s been interesting to see how the pandemic has been treated in fiction (both written and on TV). In this instance the author is tackling it head on and using the early days of the pandemic and lock-downs as the setting. Iceland is usually a location that isolates its characters and the early days of COVID only emphasises this.
The main character is Adam – his work has been largely halted by the pandemic and he’s paranoid about catching COVID; he’s asked by his ex-wife, Soffia, to help when a number of small but malicious actions are discovered. The depleted police force is used as part of the premise for asking for Adam’s help and he manages to stick with the investigation right through to the climax. They have a tense relationship and some of their backstory is revealed during the course of the book – they are opposites (which they say attract).
The investigation ramps up as a variety of other incidents occur, despite the lockdown, and the consequences become more sinister.
The characters all bring something to the story although I have to confess that I found the extended family that becomes embroiled in the investigation hard to keep track of. There were a few instances where I felt I had cottoned on to an aspect of the story that the author was aiming to hide – which made me feel quite pleased with myself – although I may be overstating my perceptiveness!
The title is a theme that runs through the whole of the book and applies to most of the characters. In fact one of the few people not hiding an aspect of themselves is the brash and abrupt Soffia.
As ever the translation was in safe hands – Quentin Bates is, first and foremost, an author in his own right – which means that the book is seamlessly translated.
It’s good to see that this is the start of a series, I would certainly like to read more about Soffia and Adam.
Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy.