Now widowed of the beloved helpmeet who was dying in Ice Moon (2007), detective Kimmo Joentaa, of the Turko CID, grapples with a second, equally chilling case.
It’s been 33 years since Pia Lehtinen was raped and murdered. Her killer was never found—only her bicycle, abandoned at the side of a cycle path, and her corpse, recovered weeks later from a nearby lake. Now, Sinikka Vehkasalo, another teenager, has disappeared, her bicycle found in the place of the memorial marking the earlier unsolved crime. Is this new crime the work of a copycat, or has the original killer been driven to repeat his crime a generation later? The case falls to phlegmatic, reflective Joentaa, but he’d rather share it with Antsi Ketola, whose retirement has removed from the force its last veteran with firsthand knowledge of the Lehtinen case. Pia’s killer, quickly revealed as now-elderly caretaker Olavi Pärssinen, remains a minor figure; instead, the story focuses on his accomplice, real-estate agent Timo Korvensuo, bringing you so close to this sorry specimen that you feel trapped inside his head. As Joentaa and Ketola do their best to deal with Sinikka’s troubled parents and unearth traces of a third similar disappearance a mere 24 years back, Wagner slowly brings Timo’s combination of guilt, denial, passivity and enjoyment of his perfectly normal family to a boil.
What is it about those Scandinavians? Though Wagner’s cops get along equably enough, there’s precious little oxygen between the other characters, who seem to be carrying all the torment his striking debut reserved for the hero.