Girls Who Lie by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir (tr. by Victoria Cribb) #BookReview #BlogTour


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.

It's such a pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for Girls Who Lie today. Many thanks to Eva Björg Ægisdóttir, Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

I loved Eva Björg Ægisdóttir's debut, The Creak on the Stairs and I clearly wasn't the only one as it deservedly won the CWA John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger 2021. Girls Who Lie is the second book in her Forbidden Iceland series and it cements her position as an author to watch.
As with the first novel, the lead character here is Elma, a police officer who has moved back to Akranes, the town she grew up in. This is a story about events that occurred in the past and through the course of the book, Elma herself has to examine her memories and come to terms with her uneven recollections of her relationship with her older sister, as well as the more recent, tragic loss of her husband.
However, it's the discovery of the body of a missing woman which really drives the narrative as Elma and her colleagues have to face up to the failures of their initial investigation which assumed that Marianna most probably died by suicide. Forensic and pathological evidence now proves that the single mother was murdered and so they have to re-examine the case and interview witnesses and potential suspects. Seven months on, memories have already faded and as each tentative new lead seems to come to nothing, it's fascinating trying to sift through the clues to figure out just what really happened.
Interspersed throughout the novel are chapters written in the first person by an unnamed woman. Unlike the main storyline following Elma's investigation, which is set over a short timeframe, these confessional chapters take place over a number of years. The first entry finds her as a bewildered, possibly traumatised new mother and as the years progress, there are some harrowing revelations which hint at the eventual truth but remain tantalisingly opaque until the shocking conclusion.
Girls Who Lie epitomises the very best of Nordic Noir; it's a chilling, melancholy story which explores the dark emotions that drive human behaviour. The convoluted awkwardness of teenage relationships, maternal expectations and pressures, complicated family dynamics, negligence, manipulation and self-preservation are all scrutinised in this compelling murder mystery. As the terrible facts begin to come to light, the sense of foreboding and unsettling tension steadily increases until the secrets and lies are eventually exposed. The real truth turns out to be more shocking than I expected and although in retrospect, all the clues are there, I still wasn't sure what really happened until the devastating conclusion. However, Eva Björg Ægisdóttir also recognises the best of humanity and there are whispers of hope here too, with love and compassion a much-needed balm for those who need and deserve better.
With its intricate, compulsive plot, astute, convincing characterisation and an atmospheric sense of place which ensures that this story resonates everywhere yet could only take place in Iceland, Girls Who Lie is as beautifully written as any literary fiction novel. Victoria Cribb also deserves the highest praise for her sensitive, flowing translation which is absolutely seamless throughout. Elma and her CID partner, Sævar are rapidly becoming two of my favourite crime fiction protagonists and the intriguing ending to this book has left me desperate for more. Very highly recommended.

Girls Who Lie is published by Orenda Books. It can be purchased from the publisher's website,, Hive, Waterstones, Kobo and  Amazon but please consider supporting independent bookshops whenever possible.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

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, going on to win the Blackbird Award, a prize set up by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Ragnar Jónasson to encourage new Icelandic crime writers. The Creak on the Stairs was published in English by Orenda Books in 2020, and became a number-one bestseller in ebook in three countries, and shortlisted for the Capital Crime/Amazon Publishing Awards in two categories. Girls Who Lie, the second book in the Forbidden Iceland series, is published in 2021. Dubbed the ‘Icelandic Ruth Rendell’ by the British press, Eva lives in Reykjavík with her husband and three children and is currently working on the third book in the Forbidden Iceland series.

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.


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