When a 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 collegues 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.
Hi and welcome to my review of The Creak on the Stairs and happy e-publication day to Eva Björg Ægisdóttir!!
First of all, huge thanks to Orenda Books, not only for this particular proof copy, but also for opening my mind and my heart to translated literature, in particular of the Nordic variety. 2018 me would not have dreamed of picking up an Icelandic thriller, 2019 me fell in love with the Reykjavík trilogy (among other Nordic gems from Orenda), and 2020 me devoured The Creak on the Stairs like a woman starving!
Elma’s relationship has ended and there’s nothing keeping her in Reykjavík, on the contrary, there’s only loads of memories holding her back. And so she ends up back where she started out: in the city of Akranes where she grew up. Starting over isn’t easy, especially not in a town where for the most part everyone knows everyone and their mother. And although she’s happy to have found a job, she suspects that working for the Akranes CID will not be quite as exciting as working for the Reykjavík police force. But that’s where Elma’s mistaken: a body is found in the water by the lighthouse and before she knows it she has quite the investigation on her hands.
Highly recommended by Ragnar Jónasson as it is, I was by no means surprised that The Creak on the Stairs oozes atmosphere. Readers who enjoy his books will certainly appreciate this one. I’m a sucker for an atmospheric thriller, this feeling that creeps up on you, intensifying as you turn the pages, and I’m about ready to hail Eva Ægisdóttir as its queen! Eva and translator Victoria Cribb have a way with words that I loved. Her writing never felt in any way descriptive, yet I could picture everything perfectly.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story itself, and of course I wanted to find out what everyone was hiding, and get confirmation that the guy I was pointing fingers at was in fact guilty, but to me The Creak on the Stairs felt more character-driven than plot-driven. Literally all of the characters intrigued me and every time I had to put the book down, I couldn’t wait to go back and find out more about them. They are incredibly well-rounded and three-dimensional, even the supporting characters, they all felt utterly real, all of it felt real, Eva masterfully shows instead of tells, or – equally masterfully – hints at, insinuates, and lets the reader’s mind do the rest.
Emotionally, The Creak on the Stairs is not the easiest read because of some of its topics. Child neglect is one such topic and its consequences reverberate through the entire story. Yet I flew through it, Eva does not dwell, she propels the plot forward, making the reader look this way and that way, so that despite the harrowing nature of some parts, the story never feels heavy, never weighs you down.
The Creak on the Stairs is clever and intricate, but the story flows so effortlessly that you don’t even realise just how clever and intricate it is, until you’ve turned that final page and start thinking back. Aren’t the best books those that deceive you, that trick your mind into thinking you’re reading a much simpler story? It’s an art all on its own, and one not all authors master, but Eva sure does.
No matter what I tell you, I will never be able to do The Creak on the Stairs any justice. Re-reading what I’ve written, I feel I’ve failed miserably at showing you how brilliant it is, and at motivating you to pick it up. But please do! Do me a favour, do yourself a favour, and open your bookish heart to The Creak on the Stairs, you won’t regret it!
The Creak on the Stairs is out in eBook today and in paperback in May. (Pre-)order on Amazon here. Note that it’s also Goldsboro’s May Book of the Month, order your limited edition hardcover here, it’s signed, numbered, and has sprayed edges – seriously I’m drooling!