A journalist on the track of an old case attempts suicide. An ordinary couple return from a house swap in the states to find their home in disarray and their guests seemingly missing. Four strangers struggle to find shelter on a windswept spike of rock in the middle of a raging sea. They have one thing in common: they all lied. And someone is determined to punish them…
So I think I have found one of my favourite books of the year. A complete surprise, as it’s not an author I’ve read before and I didn’t know what to expect, but I think it’s fair to say I have been completely blown away.
It starts with the characters, all of whom are so well drawn I felt I knew them by the end of the book. Each of them felt different and real. They had complex personalities, habits and quirks (good and bad), something I think it’s hard to do when there are multiple narrations going on at the same time. And each was dealing with curveballs unexpectedly thrown at them by life (or nature in the case of those trapped on the spike of rock), making their stories interesting outside of the murder plot.
Then there is the setting – I am not sure I’ve read a book set in Iceland before – but the cold, the snow, the sea, all made it feel claustrophobic and not somewhere I would want to be trying to escape a killer. It felt dark and oppressive, especially when you add in the police’s attitude – it can only be described as misogynistic, meaning women weren’t being listened to and assumptions to behaviours were being made.
And finally there was the way the story was told. Each chapter laid out a different part of each characters story but they were all taking place within a few days of each other, which threw me off at first until I realised what was happening; more importantly it means it’s hard for the reader to put the pieces together. You have to ask yourself what has happened, what is to come. I did finally figure it out (a game I always play with this type of book) but it wasn’t far from the end and it felt like a lightbulb going of.
O.k. so that maybe wasn’t so finally as I need to add that Why Did You Lie? is well written, very well translated, and has a great pace. I could not put it down and – almost a week later – am still thinking about it. I’ll be looking for more books by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, even if I may never be able to pronounce her name. Loved this book – highly recommended.
Please note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.