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.
Author: Eva Björg Ægisdóttir
Publisher: Orenda Books
Series: Forbidden Iceland #1
My Chosen Format: Kindle
My Rating of ‘The Creak on the Stairs: 4 out of 5
Purchase: Amazon, Audible
I’ve had a pretty iffy time of things with Nordic thrillers so I went into this one with very much a ‘if I don’t enjoy it, I shan’t try the genre again’. Ordinarily, I find that the translation is poor and leaves a very clunky story that no doubt loses much of the beauty it would have had in the original language. With this book, nothing could be further from the truth than that statement. This was, hands down, the finest translation I’ve come across for a foreign language work. So congratulations to the translator on a sublime job and well done to whoever hired said translator.
I really enjoyed this from start to finish for several reasons. As mentioned above, the translation was smooth and free of the awkward clunkiness I’ve encountered before. The characters, for the most part were solid and believable and, most importantly, there was the mystery element that confuddled me until near the end. Nothing worse than having figured everything out early on, so I’m happy to have had the wool pulled over my eyes for so long.
The main reason that this didn’t get full marks was because I wasn’t certain whether or not I was supposed to like the victim. I was torn between feeling sorry for her and hating her, and I’m no fan of that kind of split feelings hurled onto a reader. That being said, the parts that were set in the past, unlike other novels, didn’t feel forced or shoe-horned. They all fed well into the present day plot and, despite the uncomfortable nature of the past sequences, they were brief, easy sections to power through.
Another reason it fell just short for me was the pacing. It wasn’t particularly fast-paced, more of a slow-burn that could have done with a little more life to it. But, that being said, it was still a very good read.
I couldn’t help but feel there was a certain similarity between the lead character and the victim. I’m not sure whether it was aimed at or not, but it left the main character feeling a bit bland as she had the same introverted way about her as the victim (all be it for vastly different reasons). I look forward to, hopefully, seeing her come out of her shell a little more in future books.
A few loose ends were left untied which frustrated me a little. But, considering this is the first in a series, I can only assume that said loose ends will feature in future works.
This was an enjoyable debut from Eva Björg Ægisdóttir and I look forward to seeing what new heights she can take her work to in the coming years. This book was set in the town where the author lives which added an air of believability to it as, in too many cases, books are written by people who have never even set foot in the locale in which their work is set. So it felt a little more grounded because of this.