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 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.
I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour to celebrate the publication of this novel from one of Icelandic fiction’s rising stars, Eva Aegisdottir and would like to thank Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater of Random Things for the tour invitation otherwise I might never have discovered this original, gripping and unforgettable read. It’s given me yet another reason to thank the good Lord that I discovered Orenda Books and that I’ve been able to sample such a wonderful range of translated fiction through their list! Thank you to the excellent translator Victoria Cribb who really managed to convey the beauty of the language in English and draw me seamlessly into the story.
If Iceland is only in your mind because of hot springs and wonderful knitwear then you are in for an amazing surprise once you get hooked on its crime fiction. It really is unique in its flavour and once you’ve started, you’ll be totally hooked. Start looking through Orenda’s back catalogue to find other writers that you’ll be as captivated by as Eva. This novel has a very different feel than some of the other Scandinavian crime fiction I’ve read and I loved the way that it mixed the elements of the crime novel with Elma’s domestic details and personal life so credibly which really appealed to me as a reader.
I love reading novels that confound my expectation – that turn out to be something totally different to the novel that I thought that I was going to be reading. The Creak on the Stairs is one of those novels. It transported me to Iceland right alongside Elma and her team and it just immersed me in the case. I don’t think I’ve read a novel recently that kept me on my toes as much in terms of ‘solvability’ – it seemed like each new piece of information pointed me at a new culprit and I was absolutely kept on the hook until the end. I really enjoyed this clever writing and rather than waiting for a ‘big twist’ it felt like I was unravelling clues with the team and trying to get to the bottom of this in tandem with them.
This is an absolutely immersive read, it’s as rich in setting as it is in plot, allowing you to be swept off to the austere beauty of the Icelandic landscape and see it for yourself. It had never been somewhere that I’d have been desperate to see – but I found myself browsing online for holidays ‘once this lockdown is all over’ and trying to see some of these places for myself as they sounded so stunningly beautiful. I found myself re-reading certain parts of it – especially the parts featuring the Lighthouse itself– just to experience them again as I was so caught up in the feeling that I wanted to see it for myself one day.
The Creak on the Stairs blends together three very distinct narratives into a tale that is very much more than the sum of its parts. Elma’s return to Akranes and her trying to move on after a failed relationship, which is incredibly astutely drawn, the development of her new team with colleagues Sævar and Hörður, as they try and solve this mystery together and the element if the long-hidden crimes that begin to be uncovered through their investigation. To me, these three elements come together to provide a highly satisfying read as they are woven together so seamlessly in exactly the right proportions that make for an absolutely engrossing read that holds you tight as you get drawn int the mystery for yourself.
Akranes is almost a character in its own right and I felt like Eva Aegisdottir really brought the stunning Icelandic landscape vividly to life – blending its remote beauty with the personality of its inhabitants and making us think about the fact that even in the most gorgeous areas, murders can happen and that sometimes there can be just as much violence, hatred and revenge bubbling beneath the surfaces of small-town life than any big city on the planet. If like me you are missing travel due to COVID then this novel really is the next best thing and its sense of place is hard to beat. It was wonderful to escape from work and spend time in the beauty and splendour of the Icelandic landscape and felt almost as good as a holiday itself…
Eva Aegisdottir is a talented and original writer whose characters spring off the page and come to life for you as you try and work for the answers alongside them. Elma’s character is unforgettable – she is a woman trying to start again and we absolutely empathise with her as she has her own life to navigate as well as the murder to solve during this investigation. I enjoyed the aspects of her life that we get to see and look forward to discovering more about her as the series evolves, particularly her emerging friendship with Sævar and wondering how that will unfold…
The Creak on The Stairs is a superb blend of skilful plotting with a character-driven novel that I’ll be recommending to everyone. It stands out to me due to its deft manipulation of the reader and the way it keeps us guessing as well as its strong sense of place. Iceland springs to life as a character in its own right and makes you long to see some of these locations for yourself as you are reading. Eva Aegisdottir is an exciting voice in fiction that I’ll definitely be looking out for in future, I loved her voice and the characters that she brought so vividly to life in this book.
Buy yourself a copy of this fantastic and unique read here, you definitely won’t regret it.
‘Fans of Nordic Noir will love this moving debut from Icelander Eva Bjork Aegisdottir. It’s subtle, nuanced, with a sympathetic central character and the possibilities of great stories to come’ Ann Cleeves
‘An exciting and harrowing tale from one of Iceland’s rising stars’ Ragnar Jonasson
Writer On The Shelf
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 in Iceland.
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.