cover image Ice Moon

Ice Moon

Jan Costin Wagner, , trans. from the German by John Brownjohn. . Harcourt, $25 (276pp) ISBN 978-0-15-101269-5

Loss and the infinite ways we attempt to come to terms with it permeate this absorbing psychological mystery, Wagner's third novel and the first available in English translation, set in the Finnish town of Turku. A week after his wife dies of Hodgkin's disease, Det. Kimmo Joentaa feels compelled to return to work to investigate the murder of a young woman smothered in her own bed while her husband was away. Only a valueless painting appears to have been stolen. A second murder, just as puzzling, occurs in a youth hostel where a young man is killed while others slept all around him. Joentaa is sure the murders are connected and even feels inexplicably close to the killer. Though Wagner sometimes shifts awkwardly to the troubled killer's point of view, the despairing Kimmo Joentaa and the large cast of supporting characters are well drawn. This skillful mystery will have readers hoping Wagner's previous novels will soon be available in English. (May)