Night Shadows is the third book in Eva Björg Ægisdóttir’s Forbidden Iceland series. Following both The Creak on the Stairs and Girls Who Lie, Night Shadows continues the evolution of Detective Elma and her family, friends, and colleagues, while also documenting the investigation into another local crime. Once again expertly translated by Victoria Cribb, this traditional police procedural will satisfy both current and new fans.
Night Shadows begins with a suspicious fire on a farm in the small community of Akranes, in western Iceland. Very quickly, Elma and her team are able to determine that this is a case of arson – as well as potentially murder, given that amongst the debris is the dead body of a young man who lived on the property. Some of his family and friends believe it might have been suicide, but a suspicious online search initiated from his computer in the days leading up to the fire causes concern for Elma. Could there be more than one victim?
While the first half of the book unspools in chronological order, around the midway point the author begins to complicate things. As she has done with all the entries in this series, Eva Björg Ægisdóttir employs flashbacks to help flesh out the story, providing readers with the background information they need to understand how this crime happened. These occasional glimpses of past events serve to shine a spotlight on many of the suspects’ present-day motives.
Stylistically, the way that Eva Björg Ægisdóttir juggles multiple points-of-views and time shifts is a joy to behold. She manages to not confuse the reader, but also controls how they receive and interpret the information provided to generate suspense and false avenues of exploration. Whereas a reader expects to be invested in the main characters, Ægisdóttir elicits compassion for every character on the page – even those who are clearly not very nice people.
Meanwhile, Ægisdóttir hasn’t forgotten about the personal evolution of Elma. Those who are reading the series in order will remember that she was a tough nut to crack in the first book, but by the end of the second, Elma had begun to be gentler with herself and those around her. Night Shadows sees her facing her biggest personal hurdle yet – one she may not be able to clear alone.
The various solutions to every core question in Night Shadows will satisfy the reader, while also making clear the long-term impacts of certain decisions. As small a community as Akranes is, events of the magnitude outlined in this series will undoubtedly be dealt with for years – maybe generations – to come. Readers will certainly be ready to return, looking for updates on Elma and her family. The world Eva Björg Ægisdóttir has built is complex enough to keep the Forbidden Iceland series going for quite some time. And that is reason enough to celebrate.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.