Click here to read reviewer Luan Gaines' take on Ice Moon.
Ice Moon by German author Jan Costin Wagner is a rather unusual, somewhat disturbing, and highly engrossing psychological thriller set in Finland. It features Kimmo Joenta, a detective who at the start of the book suffers the long-awaited but to him impossible death of his wife, Sanna. Throughout the book, Kimmo tries and mostly fails to come to terms with her death,
struggling to make some sort of sense of whatís left of his life. His colleagues give varying levels of support, but some of them apparently have distressing personal and family problems of their own.
Then, of course, there is the Finnish criminal element to deal with... Kimmo returns to work (too early, according to some), and the big case of the moment is an assassination attempt on a politician which has attracted a lot of media attention. However, Kimmo becomes obsessed with a murder case Ė a woman who reminds him in many ways of Sanna
- and somehow he feels an inescapable need to solve it. The murder count doesnít stay at one, however, and though the murders donít appear to be connected, Kimmo feels certain Ė somehow knows Ė that there is only one murderer.
Ice Moon isnít a murder mystery per se Ė you know the identity of the murderer quite early on. The
novel is more a psychological examination of the detective and the murderer, and a few other characters from time to time. Wagnerís writing sometimes leave you speechless due to its incredible emotive power, though his writing is not without its faults; he tends to bring in peripheral characters and then do little or nothing with them. Toward the end of the book, a character
is introduced who appears to be key to whatís going to happen but ends up being fairly inconsequential, and the events that bring him together with the Finnish detective seem a little implausible.
The great strength of the writing is in getting you as the reader inside the heads of the protagonist and antagonist; because of this, the tension stays on a knife-edge right up to the end of the book.
There are a couple of profanities and descriptions of things that arenít too pleasant,
- and the murderer has some serious mental health issues - so this isnít a book for the faint-hearted. If youíre leasily offended or upset, this probably isnít the book for you. A few scenes are a little disturbing due to the nature of the events and the mentality of the characters. As a psychological thriller driven by character rather than plot, Ice Moon scores highly. It read like no other book Iíve read and, after a start that was a bit too slow and dismal, pulled me into what was happening. I
wasn't quite satisfied by the ending, but at least it isnít predictable.
The English translation from the German original by John Brownjohn is good and flows nicely for the most part, and grammatically is fine. There is one inexplicable use of ďviselikeĒ instead of
vicelike, but that's the only error that stood out.
Overall, Ice Moon does have its faults, but is a compelling read.