Monday, April 16, 2018

Snow Day

Flippist World Headquarters, April 14, 2018

I try not to talk about the weather here on FITK, but this is ridiculous. Last weekend an inch of sleet was followed by a foot of snow (with more on the way). In other words, a perfect excuse to curl up with a Nordic thriller. Fortunately, this spring storm did not deter my faithful postman who delivered, through a raging snowstorm, the Icelandic mystery novel, Why Did You Lie?, by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.

As far as I know, this is her newest book in the US market, there are other, newer, ones but in UK only release. Yrsa keeps getting better in both her series novels and her stand-alones. This is one of the latter group, a story with three overlapping and parallel time-lines: a trio of maintenance workers and a photographer are helicoptered to a remote lighthouse on a tiny crag on the Icelandic coast, a grieving policewoman is assigned to a make-work job in the department’s archive, and a couple and their son return from a trip to Florida to their house that had been occupied by an American couple in a house-swap arrangement.

From the beginning, nothing is quite “right”, yet for a long time there is no hard evidence that any crimes have been committed. Like her previous novels, Yrsa likes to stretch out the exposition. She has a good eye for the mundane, giving commonplace items a sinister significance. This trick is used in the service of a fairly complex plot that left me guessing until the final “wow” of a denouement. The Icelandic setting is more pronounced here than in some of her other work and the psychology of the characters is definitely filtered through a Icelandic sensibility.  Victoria Cribb’s translation is first-rate. I read a preview copy intended for a UK audience and while it was a bit “English” in its idioms, they weren’t enough to detract from the over-all reading experience.

Highest recommendation.

By Professor Batty


Blogger Jono said...

Currently reading The Legacy. I'll get this one soon.

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