Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Why Did You Lie, by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Review by JJ Marsh

What we thought:

Recommended by a fellow crime writer, this book was a real discovery. Described as Icelandic Noir, this atmospheric, taut thriller had me completely absorbed and I finished it in one weekend.

The narrative consists of three strands, apparently independent until certain threads draw them closer. Each carries its own brand of tension. Switching between the three is leaping from frying pan to fire to electric fence.

Nina’s husband is in a coma after his suicide attempt went wrong. She spends nights beside his bed and days at work in Reykjavik’s police station. Since her complaint of sexism against a fellow officer, she is relegated to the basement to sort through old files.

On a remote lighthouse crag, four strangers are dropped by helicopter to do their jobs. Three are engineers and the other is photographer Helgi. Bad weather hits and the claustrophobic conditions bring the storm inside.

Noi and his family return from their holiday in Florida to find the house swap has not been a success. The cat is starving, items are missing and all the outside lights are broken.

Gradually, through the minutiae of daily existence, strange occurrences increase the tension in the freezing climate and then the letters begin to arrive.

A terrifically plotted detective story with more than one shocking twist, believable characters and a setting second to none, I’ll be buying more of Sigurdardottir’s work. But only reading in the daytime.

You’ll enjoy this if you liked: Death of the Demon by Anne Holt, Snow Blind by PJ Tracy or the TV series The Killing.

Avoid if you don’t like: Suspense, details of death, crime procedure, cold

Ideal accompaniments: Salted fish dipped in Skyr, sparkling water with lime juice and Sigur Rós.

Genre: Crime

Available on Amazon

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