The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir
People looking for a page-turning mystery.
In a nutshell:
Officer Elma has returned to her hometown of Akranes after working in Reykjavik. Within a couple of days, there is a murder.
“People had gone out of their way to comfort her whereas they had made do with slapping him on the shoulder — as if a mother’s grief was more profound, more hearfelt, than a father’s.”
Why I chose it:
On my regular search for mysteries based in Iceland, this one popped up.
CN for the book: Child abuse.
What a fascinating book. Author Ægisdóttir weaves multiple stories together, including the inner thoughts of a child from 30 years ago, as she tells the story of a murder that may or may not be exactly what the reader thinks. There are a lot of red herrings in this book, but none are absurd, none are out of left field, and all fit together. The book has what I find to be a satisfying ending, not because everything is tied up the way I want, but because everything that has been laid out in the book still makes sense in the end.
This book gave me what I like in Icelandic mysteries: a sense of place. The books I’ve reviewed recently really could have been set anywhere, but here, Iceland is a character. Even the main location of the murder – a lighthouse – is real. I looked up pictures (gorgeous). So I felt like I could picture the characters and how they related to the world they were in.
As I mention, there is discussion of child abuse in this book. Most of the specific details are not shared, but it is implied that there is a sexual nature to the abuse, which is obviously VERY disturbing. But it isn’t the main focus or feature of the book, if that makes sense. But I did want to offer that warning to those who might find that topic especially triggering.
There are two more books by this author, but I don’t believe they have yet been translated into English. Once they are, I will definitely seek them out.
Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it: