Saturday 24 October 2020

The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir @evaaegisdottir BLOG TOUR @OrendaBooks #IcelandicNoir #TheCreakOnTheStairs @GoldsboroBooks


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.

The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir was published in paperback by Orenda Books on 1 October 2020, and was translated by Victoria Cribb. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this blog tour.

I have a real passion for Nordic Noir and it's been an absolute joy to read this first book in a new series from an author new to me. I read this one over a couple of days whilst in sunny Corfu and was engrossed from the beginning as the author hooks her reader with a dark and intriguing prologue. That beginning sets us up for what is one of the most cleverly constructed and at times, harrowing thrillers that I've read for many years.

Chief Investigation Officer Elma is our lead player in this story and she's a complex and superbly created character, with real depth. Elma has recently returned to the small Icelandic town of Akranes after her long-term relationship broke down. She's been working in Reykjavik, and expects small and sleepy Akranes to be far quieter with less crime. When the body of a woman is found at the lighthouse on the edge of the town, it soon becomes clear that Akranes is harbouring a murderer and as Elma digs deeper into the past of Elisabet; the murdered woman, she will discover that her home town has been hiding secrets for many years. 

This author tells her story over two time lines. We are privy to the current investigation, whilst also learning about Elisabet and her lonely and deprived childhood. There are parts of Elisabet's story that are so difficult to read about, as her mother sinks further and further into the ravages of mental health issues, alcoholism and neglect, and young Elisabet has to do her best to protect herself from those who see her as nothing but a play thing. This is stark, no-holds barred narrative that is unsettling, yet beautifully and sensitively composed. 

Ægisdóttir has created, in Arkanes, a small community that really comes alive. Every crash of a wave from the nearby shoreline, every unkempt pavement and every resident is carefully constructed, creating a place that feels overbearing, closed and full of mystery. The residents know more than they are willing to show and as Elma uncovers those dark and dangerous secrets, the sense of danger increases.

The Creak on the Stairs is a stunning debut from an author who is undoubtedly extremely talented. I am eager to read more about Elma, to watch her character develop and immerse myself in more from Arkanes. Wonderfully translated to English by Victoria Cribb, if you are fan of Nordic Noir, then you are in for such a treat. If you haven't yet discovered the joys of crime fiction from this part of the world, then this one is a great place to start. You will be hooked, I promise! 

***Winner of the Storytel Award for Best Crime Novel 2020***
***Winner of the Blackbird Award for Best Icelandic Crime Novel***
***Shortlisted for the Amazon Publishing Readers Award for Best Independent Voice***
***Shortlisted for the Amazon Publishing Readers Award for Best Debut Novel***

'Eva Björg Ægisdóttir's accomplished first novel is not only a full-fat mystery, but also a chilling demonstration of how monsters are made' The Times

'Fans of Nordic Noir will love this moving debut from Icelander Eva Björg Ægisdóttir's. 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 Jónasson

Eva Bjoerg AEgisdottir has wanted to write books since she was 15 years old, having won a short story contest in Iceland. 

She worked as a stewardess to make ends meet while she wrote her first novel, The Creak on the Stairs. 

The book went on to win the Blackbird Award, a crime-writing prize hosted by Yrsa Sigurdardottir and Ragnar Jonasson, and became an Icelandic bestseller.

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