A little info about the book…

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.

And 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 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.

 

And here is Paul Burke’s review of The Creak on the Stairs...

This excellent debut is yet more proof that Iceland’s volcanic soil is fertile ground for cutting edge crime fiction. The country is roughly the size of Cardiff and yet in recent times has produced a plethora of fine exponents of crime in the Euro-noir tradition – Lilja Sigardardottir, Ragnar Jonasson, Arnaldur Indridason, Yrsa Sigardardottir, and Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson among them – now we can add Eva Björg Ægisdóttir to the list. The Creak on the Stairs is stylish and assured, it deals with the perennial problems of child abuse and domestic violence perceptively and with psychological insight. This is a scarily gripping tale of murder – the present cannot escape the damage of the past because everyone carries the scars with them.

Elma is a cop returned from Helsinki after the painful, and unwanted, break up of her relationship with David. A fresh start but a return to the small town where she grew up. Elma is looking forward to a quieter way of life but something evil is lurking below the calm surface. A murder rekindles a nightmare that ripples through the community and sucks Elma in too. An uneasy claustrophobic air dominates the mood of the novel, it feels like treading quicksand, sinking slowly in. Ægisdóttir is a very good writer, publishers are, rightly, always excited about their books but there seems to be an extra frisson surrounding this one, it’s deserved, this is top notch. It’s just a pity that the current situation has denied this book some of the fanfare it’s due.

The past: She lies in bed pretending to sleep, her stomach churning as she hears him climbing the stairs. They creak, he doesn’t have her skill in moving silently to avoid being seen. Eventually he stands over her, the smell of booze and tobacco wafting off him. Involuntarily she pulls the cover up over her face. It doesn’t matter, asleep or awake it wouldn’t stop him. Her father drowned at sea before they discovered her mother was pregnant. The baby died, her mother detached from her, lost in her own grief…

Elma is nervous coming back to Akranes for the first time in five years, seeing her mother again, the house they lived in when she was a child, a home she left two decades ago. After briefly settling in to her new flat Elma heads to the police station for her first day. She’s expecting things to be very different from Helsinki CID, Akranes station is smaller, less well equipped but of course all police stations look alike. Elma’s first job is helping her colleague Sævar. He broke up a domestic a couple of days ago and now the woman is coming out of hospital, Elma’s presence might be useful, comforting. Ásdis is twenty-nine her husband sixty, this isn’t the first time he’s hit her, the officers try to explain that she has options, they tell her about the refuge, but Ásdis is pregnant, what choice does she really have?

Magnea is with her husband Bjarni and his parents in a local restaurant. Bjarni is about to become the new MD of the family firm, which means more money. Yet, Magnea still doesn’t get on with Bjarni’s mother Áse who never considered her good enough for her son. For a fleeting moment Magnea makes eye contact with someone across the room. Later it sparks a memory, an intense feeling, a dark and buried memory is disturbed within her…

When the two kids making out discover the body of a woman out by the lighthouse, initially it looks like a fall, Elma has her first murder case. The woman, Elísabet Hölludóttir, is not a local although she used to live here, like Elma she has just returned…

The Creak on the Stairs is real world gritty, dealing with the kind of issue crime fiction should be addressing, its an unsettling and exciting read with a couple of neat red herrings to throw the reader off the scent. It’ll be interesting to see Elma develop as the Forbidden Iceland series unfolds.

Winner of the Blackbird Award for new Icelandic fiction. There’s a signed limited edition hardback ‘book of the month’ by Goldsboro Books available to collectors. Superbly translated by Victoria Cribb.