Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR!!! Girls Who Lie by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir

Image description: the cover of Girls Who Lie has title, author and pull quote text in black and purple on a white background. Below the text is a grayscale image of a female figure standing on a bridge over a desolate river. In the distance is what appears to be a volcanic mountain.

When single mother Marianna 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 Grabrok 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 Marianna’s past – and the childhood of a girl who never was like the others…

Having read and reviewed Eva Björg Ægisdóttir’s confident and compelling debut The Creak on the Stairs last year, I was keen to read the next instalment in the Forbidden Iceland saga and discover what small town secrets Chief Investigating Officer Elma and her colleagues in Akranes found themselves investigating next. As it turns out, the dust has barely settled on Elma’s first case when the body of a missing woman is found.

Everyone has assumed troubled single mother Marianna had taken her own life but it soon becomes clear from the body that Marianna was the victim of a brutal crime. As Elma and her colleagues Sævar and Hörður investigate, they quickly find themselves embroiled in a dark and twisted saga of abuse and scandal, rooted several decades before.

While A Creak on the Stairs was most definitely Nordic noir, Girls Who Lie adds an additional layer of psychological tension to the gloomy atmosphere of Akranes. Whilst not overtly violent or gory in its tone, it therefore pays to mention trigger warnings for sexual abuse, rape, discussion of false allegations, psychological trauma, child neglect, psychological manipulation, post-natal depression, and suicide. As with its predecessor though, these harrowing topics are handled with sensitivity however and the novel ably interrogates the relationship between personal trauma and wider societal issues.

Getting back into the shoes of Chief Investigating Officer Elma was a delight. Sharp, perceptive, and hard-working, Elma retains all the dogged commitment from The Creak on the Stairs but has, finally, begun to recover from the personal trauma that led to her returning to Akranes. As such, she is a slightly softer character in Girls Who Lie and whilst this doesn’t exactly remove all of her sharp edges, it does allow us to see her work on her relationships with her sister Dagny and colleague Sævar, both subplots that I enjoyed immensely.

As with her previous novel, Eva Björg Ægisdóttir has also brilliantly captured the rhythms and patterns of small town life, from the respectability and comfort of the suburbs, to the grim reality of life on the poverty line. She’s also brilliantly evoked Iceland in all its harsh and wintery glory.

Written with subtly and nuance, Girls Who Lie also provides a compelling psychological portrait of a desperate new mother. In intermittent first-person chapters, we are transported into the mind of a troubled young woman and her daughter. These chapters make for some of the most harrowing in the novel as their unknown narrator grapples with her own complex, conflicting – and occasionally very dark – feelings towards her little girl. Working out who this unknown mother is – and what relationship she and her daughter might have to Marianna’s murder – makes for a compelling addition and, running alongside chapters focusing on the police investigation, makes for plenty of twists and turns before the novel’s end!

As with its predecessor, Girls Who Lie is a chilling, absorbing slow-burn of a book that combines a sophisticated police procedural with a subtle and emotive psychological portrait into a compelling and atmospheric package. Skilfully translated by Victoria Cribb, this is a complex, twisty novel with a compelling central protagonist and it cements the Forbidden Iceland series as amongst the finest of Nordic and Scandinavian noir.

Girls Who Lie by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir (translated by Victoria Cribb) is published by Orenda Books and is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers including Hive, Bookshop.org, Waterstones, and Wordery.

If you can, please support a local indie bookshop by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green BookshopSam Read BooksellersBook-ishScarthin Books, and Berts Books

My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review and to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour. The tour continues until 30 July 2021 so do check out the other stops for more reviews and content.

Reviews on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However if you enjoy the blog please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

Image description: blog tour banner for the Girls Who Lie blog tour showing the book cover (described above), tour dates/stops, and publisher information. Tour dates run from 1-30 July with 2-3 bloggers posting per day. Tour posts can be found and followed using the #GirlsWhoLie, or by following @RandomTTours and @OrendaBooks.

Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR!!! Death Deserved by Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger

Death Deserved final jacketOslo, 2018. Former long-distance runner Sonja Nørdstrom never shows at the launch of her controversial autobiography, ‘Always Number One’. When celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nørdstrom’s home later that day, she finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside A bib with the number ‘one’ has been pinned to the TV.

Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missing-person investigation, but he still bers the emotional scars of a hostage situation nineteen years earlier, when he killed the father of a five-year-old girl. Traces of Nørdstrom soon show up at different locations, but the appearance of the clues appears to be carefully calculated…evidence of a bigger picture he’s just not seeing…

Blix and Ramm soon join forces, determined to find and stop a merciless killer with a flair for the dramatic, and a thirst for attention.

Trouble is, he’s just got his first taste of it…

I’ve been a big fan of what has been termed ‘Nordic’ or ‘Scandi’ crime fiction ever since Lisbeth Salander first burst onto the scene. Since the phenomenal success of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy, a number of other popular Scandinavian authors have found success in the UK.

Orenda Books have long been leading the charge to introduce more translated crime fiction into the hands of eager UK readers. Having introduced Antti Tuominen and Johana Gustawsson,  Lilja Sigurdardottir and Kjell Ola Dahl to our shores, their latest release brings together not one, but TWO, bestselling Norwegian authors – Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger. Both authors are already acclaimed for their individually-authored detective novels but Death Deserved is the first in a new co-written series and is sure to bring them yet more accolades from Nordic Noir fans!

Introducing readers to two new characters, the celebrity blogger Emma Ramm and the cyncial police detective Alexander Blix, the series gets off to a bang with a sinister kidnapper who appears to be targeting high-profile individuals and playing a sinister game with investigating authorities. Blix and Ramm are soon working together in a race to solve the case, with Ramm using her journalistic contacts and reporter’s ‘nose’ to seek out new leads, while Blix pursues the official lines of enquiry.

I really warmed to both of the lead characters and they compliment each other really well. When I first started reading, I was worried that Blix’s overt cynicism and traumatic past would make him a stereotypical jaded detective – especially when his new, younger, partner Sofia Kovic is introduced – but these tropes are actually subverted really nicely and Blix, whilst maintaining his sharp edges, is revealed to be a warm-hearted and a dedicated detective with an instinctive need to protect the vulnerable and seek out the truth. His personality contrasts really well with Emma’s energetic personality – although Emma herself is revealed to be more complex and uncertain of herself than her bubbly exterior initially suggests. The supporting cast are also really well realised, from Blix’s sycophantic boss Fosse to Emma’s fellow journalists, and there are the beginnings of some interesting personal storylines for both leads.

As for pace, Death Deserved hits the ground running and keeps going to the very last page! The main plot gets off the ground within a few pages and it isn’t long before both Blix and Emma are investigating the apparent abduction of Sonja Nørdstrom.

Unlike some Nordic/Scandi Noir books, Death Deserved is not an overly gruesome or violent lead. Instead the plot nods to the hard-boiled genre, with plenty of action being combined with some perceptive psychological elements including sharp observations about the nature of celebrity culture, as well as commentary on the way in which we consume celebrity news media and make judgement calls about those who we only ever view from afar. The press release bills Death Deserved as having ‘echoes of Criminal Minds‘ and I would say that’s definitely accurate – this is Criminal Minds meets The Killing with a bit of Philip Marlowe thrown in! It’s an electric combination and I raced through the book in a couple of days, drawn in by the alternation between Blix and Emma’s dual investigations, and the revelations being uncovered with every turn of the page!

Death Deserved is a promising first outing in what promises to be another excellent crime series from Orenda Books. With two unique and likeable leads, a rip-roaring pace, and a well written, twisting psychological mystery, it’s certainly a book that will delight fans seeking their next Nordic Noir hit! I, for one, will be keeping eager eyes out for book two in the Blix & Ramm series.

Death Deserved by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger, translated by Anne Bruce, is published by Orenda Books and is available now from all good booksellers including the Orenda ebook store, Hive, Waterstones, Book Depository, and Amazon.

My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review, and to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour. The tour continues until the end of the month so do check out the other stops along the way for more reviews and content. 

Death Deserved BT Poster