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The Creak on the Stairs By Eva Björg Ægisdóttir

The Creak on the Stairs‘The Creak on the Stairs’ is the latest book by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir in the ‘Forbidden Iceland’ series.

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.

This is the first Icelandic story that I’ve read and I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this atmospheric Nordic noir.

The story is mostly seen through the eyes of Detective Elma who’s returned to the town of Akranes after leaving the bright lights of Reykjavík after her relationship broke up.

Heartbroken, she throws herself into her work, expecting nothing exciting to happen in the sleepy town until the body of a woman is found on the beach and it’s up to Elma and her team to piece together how the woman called Elisabet came to be murdered.

As Elma investigates the case, she finds herself revisiting old neighbourhoods and friends whilst old memories reappear of the her childhood. But as she delves into Elisabet’s past, she finds a much sadder and sinister time for the woman.

The story is seen from multiple perspectives and this makes for interesting and intriguing reading as you wonder what role they have to play in the story. From Elisabet’s childhood friend called Magnea who’s obviously hiding something to her father in law, a successful estate called Hendrick. There’s also a narrative from a younger Elisabet which makes for sad reading as she’s the only child to a mother who neglects her and she’s exposed to abuse.

This story is translated beautifully and inclusion of the correct way to pronounce words and names were helpful whilst reading the book. The story also included local folklores which I found equally interesting.

Elma is a great protagonist, she’s relatable in her heartbreak and her insight and observation to those around her made for great reading.

‘The Creak on the Stairs’ is the first book in a new series and certainly sets a high standard of what’s next to come. With a clever plot line, engaging dialogue as well the vibrant descriptions of the landscape and the town, this book has it all. Beautifully written and chilling to the core, this Nordic noir is a must for all fans of the genre.

You can buy ‘The Creak on the Stairs’ from Amazon.

The Seven Doors By Agnes Ravtn

The Seven Doors‘The Seven Doors’ is the latest book by Agnes Ravtn.

University professor Nina is at a turning point. Her work seems increasingly irrelevant, her doctor husband is never home, relations with her difficult daughter are strained, and their beautiful house is scheduled for demolition. When her daughter decides to move into another house they own, things take a very dark turn. The young woman living there disappears, leaving her son behind, the day after Nina and her daughter pay her a visit. With few clues, the police enquiry soon grinds to a halt, but Nina has an inexplicable sense of guilt. Unable to rest, she begins her own investigation, but as she pulls on the threads of the case, it seems her discoveries may have very grave consequences for her and her family.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Nordic Noir so I was looking forward to reading ‘The Seven Doors’.

The story is seen through the narrative of Literary professor Nina who believes that English professors should be capable of investigating crimes due to their knowledge of myths and folklores and this sets up the premise of the story. Nina finds herself obsessing over the disappearance of Mari Neilson who was the former tenant in an apartment that she and her husband Mads had. She was unaware of the woman being a tenant in the house until she and her daughter visited it as her daughter Ingeberg was wanting to move in ahead of her second pregnancy.

The story then flows with Nina doing her own investigative work into the disappearance, retracing Mari’s last steps and her relationships with her parents as well as her ex husband Nicolas Bull, who’s returned to the Bergen area after being gone for years. Although we only meet Mari once in a story for a brief introduction, Agnes creates a full image of the woman with stories from her parents and ex husband all giving an insight into the woman.

The story is cleverly crafted with references to Nordic folk lore which is where the title of the book comes from. A captain called Bluebeard’s Castle who had 7 doors in his house and forbid his wife from looking behind them. It’s a tale of revenge, loss and jealousy and it’s essentially what this book is also about.

The story is extremely atmospheric and the author includes vivid descriptions of the town, the food and the festive traditions. The descriptions of the snow covered streets to the unsettling folklores made for fascinating reading. The story is primarily about the complexities of relationships, Nina has a strained relationship with her often outspoken and robust daughter Ingeberg and struggles to connect with her granddaughter who is always pushing her away and Mads is often working and leaving Nina to her own thoughts.

This book was a fascinating to read, but the author does not include speech marks so it takes a while to get used too but after a few pages, you don’t notice it.

Atmospheric and suspenseful with tension simmering throughout, ‘The Seven Doors’ was originally a Nordic book that has been translated by Rosie Hedger and for the English market.

‘The Seven Doors’ is a twisted story with drama and unreliable characters that made for gripping reading.

You can buy ‘The Seven Doors’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.