Why Did You Lie? by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb
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…
The cover of this novel comes with the stamp ‘winner of the Petrona award 2015’. I have also heard huge praise for the author and thoroughly enjoyed one of her previous novels The Legacy. So I knew I was in for a cracking good read, how much of a cracking good read, I could not have predicted!
The novel is almost split into 3 separate parts. The group stranded at the lighthouse. The family returned from a house swap style vacation. Tough but troubled cop Nina. Whilst I loved all these individual stories and the plots that ran within them, my ultimate favourite was Nina.
The prologue opens in the midst of an event at sea. It is a crazy prologue and you never truly know what has taken place. But that is the idea and the pure genius behind Yrsa’s writing in this novel. The novel continues to move around the various parts of the story in the build up to ‘the event’ but as stated we don’t know what the event is all about. Cue epic amounts of tension!
Helgi, Ivar, Toti and Heida make up the group of four stranded at sea, whilst attempting to document a lighthouse at the giant rock in the sea. Their story develops from one of a shared experience to one of accusations and paranoia. I found this gripping, yet I also felt mystified as to how they fit into the plot, what is their narrative’s relevance to the other characters?
The novel moves onto Nina, who is a struggling cop. By struggling I don’t mean with her job or her workload but with the sexism and female oppression that is allowed to thrive in the police force. After raising a complaint, she taken off duty and pretty much sent to the basement to rot away an existence, alone with cold case files. Just when I felt complete and utter sympathy for her character. I was yet to learn her personal history. Nina spends her days at work and her evenings by her comatose husband’s bedside. Her husband Throstur having attempted suicide just 8 weeks earlier, failed in his attempt and now lays in a coma. Doctors have advised to turn off the life support but with Nina struggling to gain his sisters respect, let alone support, it is a tricky decision to make. That is until Nina stumbles upon a cold case file that has her husbands listed as a child witness…………..
Husband Noi, wife Vala and teenage son Tumi, make up the other part of the novel. They are a family returning from a fantastic vacation in Florida. However, their American counterparts are nowhere to be seen. Their house is in disarray, their cat half-starved and their keys nowhere to be seen. What has happened to the people staying in their home? When Noi’s attempts to investigate himself fail, he calls on the police who offer little assistance themselves.
“you can’t go around destroying other people’s lives without suffering the consequences”
This novel is layered with mystery upon mystery as it develops. The novel is titled, Why Did You Lie, for the first half of the novel I couldn’t see who was lying about what and wondered if they were all lying. But that is the essential beauty of this novel. It isn’t about the individual parts of the story; it is in how they come together. This novel not only reads to the very last page; it actually reads right up to the last sentence!
via Hodder: https://www.hodder.co.uk/authors/yrsa+sigurdardottir.page