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3.5 out of 5 stars
4
Light in a Dark House (Detective Kimmo Joentaa)
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 31 August 2013
Finnish detective Kimmo Joentaa is called to the local hospital in which his young wife died several years before. An unidentified woman in a coma has been murdered by someone who wept over the body, their tears staining the sheets around her. The death marks the start of a series of killings, with the unknown patient at their centre.

As you can see for a lover of serial killer crime fiction this seemed like the perfect read. I found the start of this book quite slow, there are quite a few characters all of whom initially seem unconnected.
The book starts with an excerpt from a diary written in August 1985 about a woman sat at a piano, the writer of the diary is a complete mystery. We then skip to autumn in Finland where policeman 'Kimmo Joentaa was living with a woman with no name. The anticyclone keeping the weather fine had been christened Magdalena. The woman told people to call her Larissa.'

This style of writing took some getting used to and maybe if I hadn't been given this book in return for a review that I may not have persevered. I am glad that I did if only to experience a different kind of crime fiction. Once the strands of the story begin to come together the links between the unknown woman in the hospital and other murders in public places become clear. The excerpts from the diary from 1985 and the present time really helped to move the plot along and bring clarity to the story.

The underlying themes are sadness and casual violence. There aren't massive descriptions of horrific deaths, these almost happen off-stage but the feeling of menace is there on every single page. It is quite an unsettling book with all the policemen involved in hunting the hunter having sub-plots with characters that didn't always seem to entirely to fit into the story but increased the feeling of sadness, it felt like there wasn't one uncomplicated moment in the whole book.

If you like dark novels with a twist in the tale then this may be the one for you.
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on 27 July 2013
Jan Costin Wagner is a German crime writer who has set his novels in Finland and this novel is one in a series that feature the policeman Kimmo Joenta.

This was the first book I've read by this Author and I'm a big fan of Swedish crime so I thought I would try something else in the Nordic crime genre. Kimmo Joenta is the main policeman in the story and as well as discovering the murderer, Kimmo is also struggling with the woman who walked out on him, who has no name. This thread turned out to be a very small sub plot, but was made out to be a big deal in the first couple of chapters.

The different names of all the characters were very hard to follow, partly because they were foreign names and partly because there were so many different ones. Because of this, I did lose the plot a bit at times and forgot which character had done what.

Overall I liked this book. The plot and the murders were interesting and there was definitely a mystery surrounding the deaths which made me read on to try and find out what was going on. However, I think that it could have been made more simple, with less sub plots and descriptions, as many of these were never followed up on or completed. There were also too many characters and half of them could have been left out - unless this was just me getting lost in them all, but I do think the same could have been done with a lot less characters.

For me, the ending was a bit of an anti-climax as well. The mystery of the murders was slowly unravelled over the last quarter of the book and then just kind of came to an end and stopped. There was no unexpected twist and no cliff hanger.

I would recommend this book to those readers who are crime fans and who like Swedish or Nordic crime, although I don't think I will be reading this again. I would describe it as a 'nice' crime story because there weren't any brutal murders or twists and it just kind of told a story and then ended.
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on 28 May 2016
After reading Silence, the second novel in the series which follows the work of Finnish detective Kimmo Joentaa, I was enamoured by the rather circuitous, yet strangely beguiling approach that he takes to his work. The focus of this series is firmly centred around the morose Joentaa and his personal life and private thoughts occupy as much of this novel as the crimes at issue. Silence dealt with the immediate aftermath of wife Sanna dying of cancer and in this fourth outing there is evidence of Joentaa trying to move on without his beloved wife. In Light in a Dark House, Joentaa is involved in a casual relationship and living arrangement with a prostitute who goes by the name of Larissa. When Larissa abruptly disappears following a birthday party for the Turku chief of police Kimmo Joentaa is disconsolate and alongside his work he does his best to locate a woman that he realises he knew very little about.

Silence opened with a haunting prologue from 1974 and Jan Costin Wagner uses the same ploy of providing two lines of narration in this novel, opening with a series of diary extracts dating from 1985 and relaying the nightmare of a childhood devastated by a despicable act. It quickly becomes apparent that this past episode has a crucial connection to the events which Kimmo Joentaa is faced with investigating in Light in a Dark House as the Turku police are presented with the strange case of an unknown patient in a coma whose breathing apparatus is switched off, hence amounting to murder. For Kimmo this means returning to the intensive care unit of the very hospital his wife Sanna died in and the very raw memories that remain. With the identity of the patient unknown and the only clue being the presence of 'lacrimal fluid' (effectively salty tears) on the sheets surrounding the corpse this is a case which has it roots very firmly in the past. A photograph from an earlier summer seems to hold many of the answers, and with an email clue from Larissa and the eventual connection of two murders being handled by detectives in Helsinki, Joentaa is lead to a conclusion which sends a shocking message about the men who treat women as their property.

This is not your run-of-the-mill police procedural and lacks the frenetic buzz of activity which is the more familiar territory of this genre, but it is a pleasure to be alongside the reflective and thoughtful Kimmo Joentaa and appreciate the fragility of a man trying to find a new way of living following the devastation of losing his wife at such a young age. Not everything always makes sense or is neatly resolved with Jan Costin Wagner at the helm but the ways of his introverted loner Kimmo Joentaa ultimately make for a satisfying resolution and never fails to shock by showing the far reaching effects that the miseries of the past can have on the events of today.

Review written by Rachel Hall (@hallrachel)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 31 August 2013
**3.5 stars***
Thank you to the author and publisher for a copy of this book via netgalley.

When an unidentified woman in a coma is murdered, Finnish Detective Kimmo Joentaa is called to the scene - the hospital in which his wife died several years earlier. More deaths follow and as he attempts to unravel the mystery his life is further complicated by the disappearance of his sometime girlfriend Larissa.

I liked this one. I don't read an awful lot of European/Nordic fiction it has to be said, an error I am currently correcting with several of my reading choices lately and this novel has made me want to continue on that quest. I found the characters to be quirky and intriguing - I believe there are other novels in this series but this is my first foray into the world of Kimmo Joentaa - with a well imagined mystery and enough past information to go by it was one that kept me up late into the night and thats always a good sign. However...

There were some downsides - I struggled to keep up with some of the characters and in places it felt like you had the start of a sub plot that never went anywhere. Also there were a great many peripheral characters that I felt the book could have done without. But these are small things, overall it kept me interested and reading onwards to discover the resolution.

The ending was slightly abrupt for me as well it has to be said. It kind of meandered along during the last few chapters before coming to a reasonably satisfying conclusion..which didnt immediately make me want to read more but did make me feel like there was more to be had.

Overall a pleasant read, one that I enjoyed very much without ever becoming completely immersed in it. Perfect escapism, well written crime fiction.

Happy Reading Folks!
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