The Creak on the Stairs
(Marrið í stiganum, 2018)
The Creak on the Stairs is the first winner of the Blackbird Award – an inaugural crime fiction prize founded in 2018 by crime writers Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Ragnar Jónasson.
After suffering a devastating emotional blow, Chief Investigating Officer Elma has returned to her hometown of Akranes to make a fresh start. Due to her experience on the Reykjavík Police Force, she easily secures a job at the local police precinct. She is expecting a quiet life while she recuperates in the warm embrace of her family but when a woman’s body is found under a lighthouse on the outskirts of town, she swiftly finds herself leading a murder investigation. With the help of her new partner, Sævar, Elma begins to look into the woman’s past, uncovering a shared trauma that crosses class boundaries and binds together town residents on both ends of the economic spectrum.
Icelandic crime thrillers tend to be set either in the grey urbanity of Reykjavík or the claustrophobic isolation of remote fishing villages. The Creak on the Stairs therefore offers a somewhat fresh take on the genre, due to its sleepy, suburban setting; a small town on the other side of the bay from Reykjavík which is gradually turning into one of the city’s hamlets. Eva Björg makes good use of this soporific setting, which contrasts nicely with the book’s dark themes of childhood trauma and buried secrets.