Night Shadows is the third epic, breath-taking crime thriller from Eva Björg Ægisdóttir, Icelandic author of the award-winning Forbidden Iceland series. Read my full review.
Night Shadows Synopsis
Icelandic detective Elma faces mortal danger as she investigates the death of a young man in a mysterious Akranes house fire, and a Dutch au pair’s perfect placement turns deadly.
The small community of Akranes is devastated when a young man dies in a mysterious house fire, and when Detective Elma and her colleagues from West Iceland CID discover the fire was arson, they become embroiled in an increasingly perplexing case involving multiple suspects. What’s more, the dead man’s final online search raises fears that they could be investigating not one murder, but two.
A few months before the fire, a young Dutch woman takes a job as an au pair in Iceland, desperate to make a new life for herself after the death of her father. But the seemingly perfect family who employs her turns out to have problems of its own and she soon discovers she is running out of people to turn to.
As the police begin to home in on the truth, Elma, already struggling to come to terms with a life-changing event, finds herself in mortal danger as it becomes clear that someone has secrets they’ll do anything to hide…
(Orenda Books Ltd, July 2022)
Genre: International Crime & Detective, Thriller, Mystery
Oh, my goodness. I absolutely and totally loved this book. As much as I enjoyed the first two novels in this outstanding and compelling series, Night Shadows is more convincing proof that Eva Björg Ægisdóttir only gets better and better with each book. This one is the best so far, with twists and turns that leave us feeling we’ve suffered whiplash and keep us guessing until the very end.
“Instead of letting her colleagues know when she was going to see people, she [Elma] had the tendency to act spontaneously on her hunches. More than once Sævar had to remind her that she wasn’t in a TV programme or crime novel: the guidelines were there to ensure their safety.”
Feisty protagonist, Icelandic detective Elma, her colleague Sævar and the rest of the West Iceland CID team investigate a suspicious death when firefighters find a body inside a house someone set on fire. Elma is as gutsy as they come, but also impetuous and her habit of often acting impulsively on her instincts in total disregard of police guidelines lands her in a life-threatening situation this time around.
Elma’s natural curiosity and drive make her an exceptional detective, and a likeable and engaging character lead. It’s this passion that quickly draws others, including her colleague Sævar and her boss Hörður into her orbit, as well as some other beautifully rendered fascinating second-tier characters. Elma is just a little too reckless with her own safety, a behavior that certainly contributes to making Night Shadows a high suspense roller coaster ride.
“Raindrops slid vertically down the window as the bus drove past endless bare fields that were hardly visible in the gloom. It turned out February evenings were pitch black in Iceland, and Lise felt silly to have expected any different.”
Eva Björg Ægisdóttir’s confident evocation of Iceland’s picturesque yet wild and rugged terrain gives us a strong sense of place. The sense of isolation and almost claustrophobic tension of the realities of small town living where everyone knows everything about everyone else’s business engenders a pressure-cooker atmosphere reminiscent of Ragnar Jónasson’s writing.
Besides two related crimes to solve and an impressive cast of potential suspects to sort out, Elma also faces a personal issue that adds breadth to the story and even more layers to one of the most fascinating lead characters in crime fiction. Elam seems more settled in her hometown of Akranes and a more mature detective in this book.
Night Shadows is a well-paced, breath-taking read that leaves the reader astonished and feeling a little worse for wear after Eva Björg Ægisdóttir capably builds the tension with one gut-punching revelation after another. This is a page-turning must-read for fans of crime thrillers and especially Icelandic crime fiction.
Book rating: ★★★★★