At once a startling, tense psychological thriller, and a sophisticated and twisty police procedural from a rising star in Icelandic literature.
When single mother Maríanna disappears from her home, leaving an apologetic note on the kitchen table, it is assumed 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 tragedy.
Police officer Elma and her colleagues take on the case, which becomes increasingly complex, as the list of suspects grows ever longer and new light is shed on Maríanna’s past – and the childhood of a girl who never was like the others…
Girls Who Lie is told from two points of view – that of Elma the police officer who we met in The Creak on the Stairs (told in the third person), who is assigned to solve Marianna’s murder, and that of an unknown mother (told in the first person) who has a baby daughter that she struggles to love. Her account of the child’s first few years is chilling and disturbing and you will make assumptions about the mother based on the dreadful things she has done.
But this is a book unlike any other. It’s called Girls Who Lie for good reason. In fact they all seem to be lying or are they?
Seven months earlier, Marianna, mother of teenage Hekla, disappeared without trace. She left a note saying she was sorry. The police investigated but found no clues. It was assumed that she planned to take her own life. But when a body is found on the Grábrók lava fields it is of course that of Marianna. But it’s obvious she has been murdered. Who would have done such a thing and why?
Elma and her colleagues are struggling to follow the tenuous clues and even though there are so many possible suspects, could any of them really have carried out such a terrible and violent crime? Even 15-year-old Hekla is a suspect. She didn’t exactly adore her mother and spent much of her time with her part-time ‘foster’ parents, Bergrun and Fannar, who gave her a stable family life when her mother went off the rails.
The plot gets more and more complicated and then – what a twist! One of the best in any book I have read recently. But that’s not all and by the end you are still not sure who is lying. A brilliant book by an author who is rapidly becoming my favourite in Scandi Noir.
Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours
About the Author
Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva Björg Ægisdóttir studied for an MSc in Globalisation in Norway before returning to Iceland and deciding to write a novel – something she had wanted to do since she won a short-story competition at the age of fifteen. After nine months combining her writing with work as a stewardess and caring for her children, Eva finished The Creak on the Stairs. It was published in 2018, and became a bestseller in Iceland. It also went on to win the Blackbird Award, a prize set up by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Ragnar Jónasson to encourage new Icelandic crime writers. It was published in English by Orenda Books in 2020. Eva lives in Reykjavík with her husband and three children and is currently working on the third book in the Forbidden Iceland series. Follow her on @evaaegisdottir
Orenda Books is a small independent publishing company specialising in literary fiction with a heavy emphasis on crime/thrillers, and approximately half the list in translation. They’ve been twice shortlisted for the Nick Robinson Best Newcomer Award at the IPG awards, and publisher and owner Karen Sullivan was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016. In 2018, they were awarded a prestigious Creative Europe grant for their translated books programme. Three authors, including Agnes Ravatn, Matt Wesolowski and Amanda Jennings have been WHSmith Fresh Talent picks, and Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, won an English PEN Translation Award, and adapted for BBC Radio Four ’s Book at Bedtime. Six titles have been short- or long-listed for the CWA Daggers. Launched in 2014 with a mission to bring more international literature to the UK market, Orenda Books publishes a host of debuts, many of which have gone on to sell millions worldwide, and looks for fresh, exciting new voices that push the genre in new directions. Bestselling authors include Ragnar Jonasson, Antti Tuomainen, Gunnar Staalesen, Michael J. Malone, Kjell Ola Dahl, Louise Beech, Johana Gustawsson, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Sarah Stovell.