Book Review: The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir

I am obsessed with reading Scandi thrillers, and wish I had the sort of mind that could plan the plot to be able to write one myself.

Most of the well-known Scandi authors, and most of the ones I’ve read are by men. Stieg Larsson (The Millenium Trilogy); Henning Mankell (Kurt Wallander books); Jørn Lier Horst (William Wisting series); Lars Kepler “The Hypnotist” and Jo Nesbo (The Snowman) to name a few. I have recently found Stefan Ahnhem, (who began his career as a screenwriter, adapting some of the Wallander books for TV). His own books are about Swedish detective, Fabian Risk, and I’m working my way through the series.

So, what about female Scandi authors? 

  • Åsa Larsson writes the Rebeka Martinsson series (which has been made into a TV series). (4 books)
  • Leena Lehtolainen writes Maria Kallio series. (11 books)
  • Maj Sjöwall – the Martin Beck series (10 books) also made into a TV series.
  • Alex Dahl – “Cabin Fever”
  • Karin Alvtegen -“Missing”
  • Katrine Engberg –“Butterfly House”
  • Salla Simukka –“As Black as Ebony”

I have quite a few to read- but I made a start with “The Creak on the Stairs”.  This is debut thriller from Icelandic author, Eva Björg Ægisdóttir.

It is the tale of police inspector, Elma who returns from Reykjavik to her hometown, Arkanes after the end of her relationship. It’s a sleepy, boring place that she really doesn’t want to return to.

The story begins with body of a woman discovered near a lighthouse and it becomes clear that the woman is no stranger to the town.

The story moves between the past and present day, unravelling threads of events that have been hidden in the community for years. The story is intriguing, and although most of the book is about the investigation and forays into the past, which could seem quite slow paced, the author manages to maintain the pace, and somehow the story doesn’t flag. But this isn’t cosy crime! There is darkness and intrigue in the story, as Elma’s investigation uncovers some disturbing history of this sleepy town. She also discovers things about herself and we readers also discover something about her life that we may not have guessed.

The author creates the claustrophobic feeling of Elma going back home to a small town finding that people have moved on, things have changed. Also, she is the only female detective surrounded by men, and feels she has to prove herself to fit in.

There were twists and turns throughout. However, I was slightly disappointed by the ending. I was left wanting to know if certain characters were ever reprimanded for their crimes and the book came to a fairly quick conclusion after a long lead, full of suspense. I felt very slightly let down. 

There are two more books in the series, and despite the ending, I look forward to reading those too.

4.5 stars