Hella Mauzer was the first ever woman Inspector in the Helsinki Homicide Unit. But her superiors deemed her too ‘emotional’ for the job and had her reassigned.
Now, two years later, she is working in Lapland for the Ivalo police department under Chief Inspector Järvi, a man more interested in criminal statistics and his social life than police work. They receive a letter from Irja Waltari, a priest’s wife from the village of Käärmela on the Soviet border, informing them of the disappearance of Erno Jokinen, a local. Hella jumps at the chance to investigate. Järvi does not think that a crime is involved. After all, people disappear all the time in the snows of Finland.
When she arrives, Hella stays the village priest and his wife, who have taken in Erno’s grandson who refuses to tell anyone his grandfather’s secret. A body is then discovered in the forest and she realizes that she was right; a crime has been committed. A murder.
But what Hella doesn’t know, is that the small village of Käärmela is harbouring another crime, a crime so evil, it is beyond anything any of them could have ever imagined.
“Welcome to the most stubborn of cops, Hella Mauzer, righting wrongs in cold Lapland, a memorable character with just the right disdain for authority and its amoral attitudes to justice and women. A feminist 1952 cop before feminism was invented.” Maxim Jakubowski, author of The Louisiana Republic
“I read it in one sitting. It’s thrilling. The setting, the timing, being in the midst of the Cold War, and our stubborn, smart and brave heroine Hella – a woman fighting crime in a world opposed to her, are all elements I enjoyed. Katja Ivar turns a seemingly small random crime into something much bigger. A very good read!” Cecilia Ekbäck, author of Wolf Winter
“This is a remarkable debut — the best novel I’ve read this year. A historical thriller with a heart that keeps you enthralled to the final page. Ivar has constructed a frightening, atmospheric and addictive tale set in 1950s Lapland on the border with Soviet Russia. Spies, international conspiracies, overlaid on icily claustrophobic rural life. But above all in Hella Mauzer a believable heroine prepared to put her own life on the line for justice. I can’t wait for her next adventure.” David Young, author of A Darker State and STASI Child, both part of the Oberleutnant Karin Mueller series.