Blog tour: Boys Who Hurt by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir, translated by Victoria Cribb

Boys Who Hurt

This post is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Blog Tours. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

‘Dark secrets from the past threaten everything…

‘Fresh from maternity leave, Detective Elma finds herself confronted with a complex case, when a man is found murdered in a holiday cottage in the depths of the Icelandic countryside – the victim of a frenzied knife attack, with a shocking message scrawled on the wall above him.

‘At home with their baby daughter, Sævar is finding it hard to let go of work, until a chance discovery in a discarded box provides him with a distraction. Could the diary of a young boy, detailing the events of a long-ago summer, have a bearing on Elma’s case?

‘Once again, the team at West Iceland CID has to contend with local secrets in the small town of Akranes, where someone has a vested interest in preventing the truth from coming to light.

‘And Sævar has secrets of his own that threaten to destroy his and Elma’s newfound happiness…’

Boys Who Hurt

In Boys Who Hurt, by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir, we pick back up with Detective Elma as she comes off maternity leave straight into a murder case that’s far from straightforward.

With no immediately obvious suspects for the brutal killing of middle-aged Thorgeir, and a message written on his wall that seems to relate to a Christian youth camp he attended as a teenager in 1995, Elma and her team end up casting their net far and wide, uncovering all sorts of information that may or may not be pertinent to the case.

The pressure only increases when the perpetrator strikes again, and it certainly doesn’t help that the father of Thorgeir’s long-time best friend is an intimidating retired police chief who has reasons to refuse to co-operate with the investigation, as well as something on Elma’s partner, Sævar, that could have devastating effects if deployed.

I’m always excited to read a new Eva Björg Ægisdóttir book, and Boys Who Hurt more than fulfilled my expectations. I found myself reading it at every opportunity I had, as I was so keen to see what each chapter would bring.

For one thing, this novel is brimming with fascinating, multi-layered characters who aren’t what they initially seem, and every time someone’s true nature came to light, I had to readjust the list of suspects I’d made in my head.

This is especially true of the surviving, now elderly parents of Thorgeir and some of his peers from the summer camp, many of whom hid, and continue to hide, all manner of unpleasant behaviour and dodgy dealings behind wholesome facades.

Ægisdóttir – in conjunction with translator Victoria Cribb – is so skilful at concealing and revealing information in a way that gives your brain a real workout, yet doesn’t leave you feeling like you’ve been repeatedly played for a fool.

Not unrelatedly, the author continues to demonstrate her talent for examining family relationships, particularly between parents and children, but also siblings.

As indicated above, Thorgeir and his cohorts commonly had, and still have, fraught relationships with their parents. It is heartwarming, though, to see that one of them, Matthías, is consciously more caring and supportive of his teenage daughter, Ólöf, than his belligerent police inspector father was with him (and a counterweight to Ólöf’s cold-hearted mother, Hafdís).

As with the previous titles in this series, scenes from Elma’s personal life are highlights of this book. I always love her interactions with her mother and sister, who can be simultaneously endearing, witty, and maddening, and I can’t wait to see how Elma’s relationship with her baby daughter Adda develops.

I also enjoyed being reunited with Elma’s grumpy-yet-lovable boss Hörður, and her partner/colleague Sævar. The latter is on paternity leave, but is still integral to the plot, as he finds an old diary that proves relevant to the case (and lends a poignant, haunting note to proceedings), and is at risk of having a shattering secret exposed.

Boys Who Hurt is a gripping and skilful addition to a series I love.

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About Alice Violett

Writer of blogs and short stories, reader of books, player of board games, lover of cats, editor of web content, haver of PhD.

Colchester, UK