The Creak on the Stairs
By Eva Björg Ægisdottir
Translated by Victoria Cribb
Published by Orenda Books Oct 2020
What it’s about:
The first in the electrifying new Forbidden Iceland series, The Creak on the Stairs is an exquisitely written,
claustrophobic and chillingly atmospheric debut thriller by one of Iceland’s most exciting new talents.
When the body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse in the Icelandic town of Akranes, it soon becomes clear that she’s no stranger to the area.
Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who has returned to Akranes following a failed relationship, and her colleagues Sævar and Hörður, commence an uneasy investigation, which uncovers
a shocking secret in the dead woman’s past that continues to reverberate in the present day…
But as Elma and her team make a series of discoveries, they bring to light a host of long-hidden crimes that shake the entire community. Sifting through the rubble of the townspeople’s shattered memories, they have to dodge
increasingly serious threats, and find justice … before it ’s too late.
What I think:
I’ve read and enjoyed Scandinavian Noir, but never read anything Iceland so this book was really appealing.
As the first in a series set in the Icelandic town of Akranes, the book introducing the main investigator, Elma and her colleagues, their histories and relationships.
Elma is a very appealing protagonist. Having returned to her home town after the end of her long term relationship. She is coping with her grief, loneliness and trying to establish the next chapter of her life in a small town where people are interconnected and know each other’s business.
The case centres around the death of Elizabet. A beautiful, but aloof mother of two. Her body is discovered in Akranes, the town she lived in as a child and grew to hate.
As the investigation develops, Elma and her team uncover the unsavoury secrets hidden beneath the respectability of society.
The split narrative, with chapters revealing the childhood experiences of Elizabet are darkly disturbing. While the are never explicit, the readers sees her fear and the devastating consequences that the actions of adults have on an extremely neglected and vulnerable child.
As the investigation develops there are some shocking twists along the way and I was kept guessing until the very end.
While this investigation is successfully solved, there is a sense of more to come. Some of the characters living in Akranes definitely seemed like the might be hiding secrets of their own.
The Icelandic landscape is both beautiful and dangerous. There is a sense of despair and darkness that pervades the book that comes from geographical environment and adds to the atmosphere.
The book begins with a pronunciation guide to help with the Icelandic names which is really helpful – although I’m not sure I got all of them correct!
This is a well plotted thriller with compelling characters and I will definitely be looking for future books.in the Forbidden Iceland series.
About the author:
Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva moved to Trondheim, Norway to study my MSc
in Globalisation when she was 25. After moving back home having completed
her MSc, she knew it was time to start working on her novel. Eva has wanted
to write books since she was 15 years old, having won a short story contest
Eva worked as a stewardess to make ends meet while she wrote her first
novel. The book went on to win the Blackbird Award and became an
Icelandic bestseller. Eva now lives with her husband and three children in
Reykjavík, staying at home with her youngest until she begins Kindergarten.
Thank to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Orenda Books for gifting me a copy of The Creak on the Stairs.