The Creak on the Stairs

Synopsis: 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.

Dear Creak on the Stairs,

Thank you giving me new eyes into life. It’s true what people say about you, you were intricately and beautifully written. You are a book meant to be savored and reread. You broke my heart and left me pondering the words, even after ‘The End’. I look forward to next time.

With Love,
Hannah

Time to snuggle up with a cozy blanket and a cup of coffee (this will help with the ambiance of the book). The Creak on the Stairs transports readers to Akranes, Iceland. We get an inside look from Eva Björg Ægisdóttir who grew up in the small town of Akranes. There is so much power reading books set outside our country and widening personal worldviews. Not only was this book’s location in Iceland, but it is translated from Icelandic. I have never been to Iceland (nor do I speak Icelandic, unfortunately), however Eva Björg Ægisdóttir brought texture and encouraged me to connect and explore Iceland. Culture is about human experiences, not solely a couple recipes or tourist attractions. While reading about a murder doesn’t seem like an invitation to see Iceland, she weaved in oral tradition, governmental and societal structure, as well as town perceptions expertly.

She hears him long before she sees him. Hears the creaking as he climbs the stair, one cautious step at a time.” (p. 1). Eva Björg Ægisdóttir drew me in from the first words. I’ll be honest, I don’t read a lot in the true crime or mystery genres. However, after reading this novel I wonder… why not? I enjoyed the evolution of the plot, as all the stories became connected into one.

Eva Björg Ægisdóttir is an excellent story teller, I immediately was gripped by the characters. Each one was so unique and clearly thought out. While I would have enjoyed going deeper with some of the characters, it was not a deficit to the story. Elma is an endearing character who is flawed, lovable, and in the process of healing. I enjoyed seeing her interactions with her co-workers, suspects, and her mother. We get to meet her co-workers for the first time with Elma, since she has moved back to Akranes after many years away. Her mother was a supportive, loving, in involved parental figure. It is always refreshing to see a positive parental relationship in books. Their interactions were important in bringing together a holistic view of Elma’s character. Sometimes characters’ family life seems to have no impact on their person at all, while in real life people are greatly impacted by family.

The story was told from different perspectives and occasionally going back in time to tell the story of Elisabet, the woman who was murdered. Elisabet was a gripping character, yet off-putting. I’m not exactly sure how to say it… she was so well written that she bothered me. I really felt for her, and her responses to circumstances were so real. I left her scenes thinking, “Why is nobody doing anything?”. She was emotionally distant (if not numb) and it is clear why as the story continues. There were points in the flashbacks when I felt my stomach clench in a little bit of horror, especially as the end drew near.

I didn’t mind the going back in time, because it was engaging to have Elisabet’s childhood break up the “modern day/investigation” part of the story. However, the timeline of the story was a little bit confusing to me. I got a little lost with the chronology (each chapter was dated, eg. Saturday, 18 November, 2017). This may just be me though. I also got a little slowed down by the names. Not a critique on the book, but a warning to readers who don’t know Icelandic. I kept having to go to the beginning of the book to the pronunciation guide… honestly, even now I am worried I have been saying the names wrong!

Upon reading the last words of ‘The Creak on the Stairs’, I just sat there. I wanted it to go on, because I had become attached to the characters and their lives. There is still so much more life in them and I didn’t get to see complete closure. Even now, I sit thinking about the characters and their lives. I feel like a spider web of emotions. All the strings put together is a picture of how I feel about the book. There is a string of anger pointed at some of the character’s attitudes and decisions, heart-break at the experiences of others, and anticipation for everyone’s future. I am amazed that in 304 pages I grew so attached. To say it simply: I didn’t want the book to end. And the good news is… there will be a second book sometime in 2021.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you enjoy travelling, gripping novels, and deep emotions I highly recommend it. If you read the book, let me know what you think about the ending (I am longing to talk about it with others)! Also, if you have any other true crime or mystery books for someone just coming into the genre, let me know. I would love some recommendations :).

Trigger Warnings: This book does touch on difficult subjects such as child abuse, domestic violence, and bullying.

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