When single mother Maríanna disappears from her home, leaving an apologetic note on the kitchen table, everyone assumes that she’s taken her own life … until her body is found on the Grábrók lava fields seven months later, clearly the victim of murder. Her neglected fifteen-year-old daughter Hekla has been placed in foster care, but is her perfect new life hiding something sinister?
Fifteen years earlier, a desperate new mother lies in a maternity ward, unable to look at her own child, the start of an odd and broken relationship that leads to a shocking tragedy.
Police officer Elma and her colleagues take on the case, which becomes increasingly complex, as the number of suspects grows and new light is shed on Maríanna’s past – and the childhood of a girl who never was like the others…
Breathtakingly chilling and tantalisingly twisty, Girls Who Lie is at once a startling, tense psychological thriller and a sophisticated police procedural, marking Eva Björg Ægisdottir as one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
I just know within a few pages of a novel that it is going to be a stunner, clever, beautifully written, perfectly plotted and unbearably tense. I knew within a few paragraphs that Girls Who Lie by Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir was going to be one of my stand out books of 2021 and as I read the last few pages, I was proved right!
We all wax lyrical about how a great thriller has twists and turns, how excited we get when an author manages to catch us of our guard and actually surprise us, but it feels increasingly rare, the more thrillers I read! One of the reasons I adored Girls Who Lie was that it did surprise me, it actually made me sit up and go f**k I didn’t see that coming and it made my reading week. So many thrillers rely on a cascade of seemingly never ending curve balls that often leave me feeling nonplussed by the end of the book, like I have been battered by a juggernaut of over the top twists in the tale, so much so I switch off before the reveal actually happens.
Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir is far to clever a writer for this approach and as a result she delivers a cleverly crafted tale, in which the identity of the killer is revealed slowly, making the shock all the sweeter and all the better for the lingering impact it had on me the reader. I sat back in bed, in the dark and played events over and over in my mind, wondering how she had managed to fool me and adoring that she had. The flow of the story felt seamless, the clues to solving the murder of Maríanna swirling around within the narrative like a gentle breeze until the final reveal. Clever is not shouty, it’s not bells toiling, crowds shouting, it is subtle, driven by character and this is why Girls Who Lie is such an utter triumph for me, it treats the reader like the intelligent person they are, plays with their assumptions, but never panders to them.
Girls Who Lie is the second in the Forbidden Iceland series and the very welcome return of Icelandic Detective Elma and her team. Intelligent, perceptive, dedicated and flawed, she is the perfect character for this intelligently written thriller! You are not overly distracted by the drama of her life, but find yourself caring about her, because of all she has been through. You share in her life, because you like her, her intelligence and being able to spend more time with her, is a unmigrated pleasure. She is allowed to develop in this second installment, to begin to heal and move forward, she makes mistakes as we all do, but you get glimpses of how her keen intelligence drives forward the investigation. But Elma is not a single character, like any police investigation, she is part of a team and her sometimes obsessive nature, is balanced out by Saevar, more laid back, so they work in almost perfect harmony. The simmering attraction between them that was evident in book one, becomes more tangible in Girls Who Lie and it adds a layer of connection, that I hope becomes a continuing thread in this series.
I read a quote that sometimes the dead have a lot to hide and that is very true here. Match that with a killer who has as much to bury, with a chillingly disturbed mind and a life shrouded in lies and you have the creation of an almost perfect storm. One moment, one decision made by them, not only damages lives of those around them, but affects the lives of the next generation and it is around this pretext that the story in Girls Who Lie is formed. It’s genius lies in the fact, that no one, certainly not the victim is perfect and sometimes, the killer and the victim are more alike than you would like to think.
Girls Who lie is superb, chillingly so.
You can buy this novel directly from the publisher at Orenda Books.
You can also order from one of the many fantastic indepedant bookshops.
About the author
Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva moved to Trondheim, Norway to study my MSc in Globalisation when she was 25. After moving back home having completed her MSc, she knew it was time to start working on her novel. Eva has wanted to write books since she was 15 years old, having won a short story contest in Iceland.
Eva worked as a stewardess to make ends meet while she wrote her first novel. The book went on to win the Blackbird Award and became an Icelandic bestseller. Eva now lives with her husband and three children in Reykjavík, staying at home with her youngest until she begins Kindergarten.
You can follow Eva on Twitter @evaaegisdottir.
About the translator
Victoria Cribb studied and worked in Iceland for many years. She has translated more than 25 novels from the Icelandic and, in 2017, she received the Orðstír honourary translation award for services to Icelandic literature.