Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where it is my absolute pleasure to share with you an excerpt from Night Shadows! Check out my review here if you missed it the first time around, but the long and short of it is pretty much this: 🤔🧐🥴🤪🤯 I kid you not. Once again Eva Björg Ægisdóttir has woven an intricate tale that burns steadily throughout the pages and positively roars towards the finale. Cleverly plotted, dropping hints along the way, Night Shadows is a great addition to a series I would highly recommended.
Many thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour, and to Orenda Books for the excerpt.
Let’s have a quick look at the blurb first:
The small community of Akranes is devastated when a young man dies in a mysterious house fire, and when Detective Elma and her colleagues from West Iceland CID discover the fire was arson, they become embroiled in an increasingly perplexing case involving multiple suspects. What’s more, the dead man’s final online search raises fears that they could be investigating not one murder, but two.
A few months before the fire, a young Dutch woman takes a job as an au pair in Iceland, desperate to make a new life for herself after the death of her father. But the seemingly perfect family who employs her turns out to have problems of its own and she soon discovers she is running out of people to turn to.
As the police begin to home in on the truth, Elma, already struggling to come to terms with a life-changing event, finds herself in mortal danger as it becomes clear that someone has secrets they’ll do anything to hide…
Ready to head to Iceland? Great! Here goes:
Unnar woke up to find himself in bed, fully dressed. His white shirt was sticking to his body, and his suit trousers were unbuttoned to reveal his briefs. His mouth felt so parched that he worked his lips to try and summon up some saliva, then put his hands over his eyes to shield them from the dazzling sunlight that was streaming in through the window.
When he tried to sit up, pain knifed through his head, so he lay straight back down again and closed his eyes. After a while, he crawled out of bed and, with difficulty, made it to the bathroom, where the residue of the previous night’s excesses ended up in the toilet bowl.
Unnar was too old for this. Although he drank regularly, he didn’t normally get as wrecked as he had last night.
As he stood under the shower, he tried to remember what had happened. He recalled the dinner party and the first part of the evening. The bottles of Bollinger they’d drunk with the starter, the roast that had melted in the mouth after its long sous-vide cooking, the Hasselback potatoes. Everyone had praised the food, and afterwards they had polished off a bottle of ten-year-old malt that Villi had brought with him.
After that, though, the events of the evening grew hazy, and by the end of his shower Unnar was still no closer to remembering how he had come to be in bed with all his clothes on. The ominous feeling wouldn’t leave him as he was dressing, but the harder he tried to piece the evening together, the more it seemed to slip from his grasp.
His seven-year-old daughter, Anna, was practising gymnastics in the sitting room when he emerged.
She raised both arms, extended her leg, then bent over backwards and executed a full turn. Anyone would think she was double-jointed.
‘Wow,’ Unnar said, impressed. ‘What a clever girl I’ve got.’
Anna glowed with pride, then wrinkled her nose. ‘Daddy, your breath stinks.’
In the study he found Laufey seated at the computer, her glasses perched on her nose. The instant she became aware of him, she closed the window that had been open on the screen.
‘What, are you booking a flight?’ He thought he’d seen the logo of an airline.
Laufey turned. ‘Yes, actually,’ she said. ‘I still need to buy the tickets to Sweden.’
‘Still? But that’s only two weeks away.’
‘Yes, I know, I’m terribly behind.’ Laufey took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes, studying him as if she were seeing him properly for the first time in a very long while. ‘How are you feeling?’
‘Fine,’ Unnar lied.
‘You put away a hell of a lot last night.’
‘So did you.’
Laufey didn’t reply to that.
Unnar couldn’t actually remember whether Laufey had drunk a lot. He could hardly recall anything about her behaviour last night, except that she had chatted to the other wives while he and his friends were reminiscing about their schooldays. And she had given him the evil eye when he didn’t immediately clear away the dishes after supper.
He tried to read from her expression whether anything else had happened, but her face was inscrutable. She asked him if he wanted a coffee.
‘No,’ Unnar replied. ‘No, thanks.’ He watched as she went into the kitchen and poured some beans into the automatic coffee machine they had bought last Christmas.
His wife had once been beautiful, but these days she gave little thought to her appearance. A few years ago she’d had her hair cut short and started wearing glasses – God, how he hated those glasses. They made her look at least ten years older.
When they’d met she had been a fifteen-year-old with dreams of becoming a hairdresser. They had always been a bit wild, having sex wherever they wanted to: in an alleyway behind a club, in his parents’ bed, on a hotel balcony in Spain. Today she was forty-two, sat on Akranes town council, taught yoga and was studying for a degree of some sort. Whenever she spoke in public, her grating voice made him cringe. They rarely had sex and when they did it was over quickly.
Many of his colleagues’ wives looked much better and seemed to care far more about their appearance. But none of them could compare to Tommi’s new girlfriend, Helena. Tommi, who worked with him in the export department, had divorced his wife last year and his two kids were teenagers, so he rarely saw them. Helena had dark hair, a slim waist and big breasts. She’d just completed a degree in tourism studies and loved hiking. She was always dragging Tommi off into the mountains, and Unnar thought he seemed a changed man. But when he mentioned this, Tommi said it wasn’t the mountain hikes but all the sex that did it. Tommi had shown him a picture of Helena, bare-breasted, fast asleep in bed, then laughed uproariously.
Unnar was perfectly aware that his thoughts were superficial. After a long marriage, things like this shouldn’t matter to him, and yet they did. And it wasn’t just Laufey’s appearance that got on his nerves. She’d changed: she was no longer the fun, carefree, adventurous person she had once been.
Sometimes it felt as if they had nothing in common anymore apart from the children, but the day would come when the kids moved out. Then it would just be him and Laufey alone together, and he had no idea what they would say to each other.
‘What?’ Laufey asked, noticing him staring at her. She dunked half a biscuit into her mug, then stuffed it in her mouth.
‘Nothing,’ Unnar said.
‘Hangover that bad, is it?’
‘Are you sure you want to eat that biscuit?’ he retorted.
‘I thought you were on a diet.’
Laufey gave him a weary look and turned away.
Ready for more? No worries: Night Shadows is out in digital formats and paperback now. Order it directly from Orenda Books here.