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Wagner, Jan Costin - 'Ice Moon' (translated by John Brownjohn)
Paperback: 320 pages (Feb. 2006) Publisher: Harvill Secker ISBN: 1843432145

German author Jan Costin Wagner has set ICE MOON in Finland, his home for six months of the year. John Brownjohn provides a pleasing translation from the original German.

The book begins with young Finnish CID officer Kimmo Joentaa at his dying wife's hospital bedside. Sanna has a cancer that is very rare in women which makes the situation even more unbelievable. After Sanna dies, Kimmo returns to work before he's swallowed up by his grief. The high profile case of the moment is the shooting of a politician but Kimmo is assigned to the mysterious death of a housewife. The woman had been smothered in her bed whilst asleep. This death is followed by another and another, all peaceful deaths, and Kimmo begins to relate to the killer and to anticipate his moves. Equally, he admits to himself wrongly, he wants the case to continue so that he doesn't have to go back to the reality of his wife's death.

Kimmo eventually joins the reader in knowing who the killer is but the killer finds him first, though the confrontation doesn't go as expected.

From the black and white cover to the low key ending in a snowy winter this is a sombre tale with little humour. The sense of grief and loss emanating from Kimmo make this quite a painful read. Kimmo is a good and quiet man who deserves better than his current situation. The story is told from Kimmo's point of view supplemented by chapters from the killer. I found the police investigation side more captivating than the murderer's life and as the murderer is mentally ill their musings often didn't make much sense to me. There is a great sense of place and is one of the few novels that afford a peek into the workings of the Finnish police force.

Reading ICE MOON, I was reminded strongly of the film 'Truly Madly Deeply' and the grief portrayed by actress Juliet Stevenson. This is certainly a novel that stays with the reader for a long time.

Read another review of ICE MOON.

Karen Meek, England
April 2006

Karen blogs at Euro Crime.

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 24/09/2010 16:28