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Wagner, Jan Costin - 'Silence' (translated by Anthea Bell)
Paperback: 256 pages (Aug. 2010) Publisher: Harvill Secker ISBN: 1846551773

SILENCE is the follow-up to ICE MOON which introduced Finnish Detective Kimmo Joentaa. In ICE MOON, Kimmo was mourning the death of his wife and the feel of the book was hauntingly sad. In SILENCE, two-years on, not much has changed. Kimmo's computer wallpaper is a picture of the graveyard where Sanna is buried. Her photos are still on the wall and he has no plans to move from their lakeside home.

The prologue to SILENCE (ungraphically) describes the rape and murder of a teenage girl by two men. In fact one of the men does nothing to assist his murderous companion but nor does he help the girl, he sits there stunned and then helps dispose of the body. The crime scene is marked by a cross and the girl's mother, who lives only a few hundred yards away will not move until the killer is caught.

Thirty-three years later, the murder is still unsolved and Kimmo's boss Ketola is retiring. Before he goes he retrieves a scale-model of the crime scene and takes it to his house. This unsolved case was one of Ketola's first and he's not sure why he suddenly thinks of it.

Then a second girl disappears from the same spot, the place marked by a cross. There is blood on the ground but the girl's body is not found. Has the killer re-appeared after thirty-three years? Ketola offers his assistance with the current case but his behaviour is even odder than it was when he was working for the police.

The story switches between the point of view of Kimmo, Ketola, the first dead girl's mother, the missing girl's parents and most significantly, the silent partner to the first murder who has now built a successful life for himself.

The main story of SILENCE tales place during a few days in June, time of the midnight sun, and there is a dreamy, unreal quality to it all. Like in Karin Fossum's novels a lot of time is spent with the victims of the crime, seeing what they're feeling and watching the cracks form in their relationships.

It's been a four year wait for SILENCE so I savoured the read; I didn't want to finish it. It's not a long book but Wagner's style, translated this time by Anthea Bell, leaves an impact. I'm told there's a third in the series so I hope it's not a four year wait for that one.

Read another review of SILENCE.

Karen Meek, England
September 2010

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 14/08/2011 14:34