Author: Jo Spain
Published: May 2022 by Quercus
Category: Scandi Thriller, Murder/Mystery, Police Procedural
A small town. A frozen lake. Three missing women. One body.
When young London professional Alex Evans is informed that his sister’s body has been pulled from an icy lake in Northern Lapland, he assumes his irresponsible sister accidentally drowned. He travels to the wealthy winter resort where Vicky worked as a tour-guide and meets Agatha Koskinen, the detective in charge. Agatha is a no-nonsense single mother of three who already thinks there’s more to Vicky’s case than meets the eye.
With a chilling, in both senses of the word, prologue we witness the death of a young woman in an icy lake.
Alex Evans is woken up early one morning by a phone call from his father. His mother is in hospital after a heart attack and his father wants him home urgently.
Alex stares at his phone.
Why the urgency if his mother is ok?
There’s something Ed’s not saying.
Is his mother fine … for now?
As he dresses, he rings Vicky’s mobile. The line doesn’t even connect, just goes straight to voicemail.
Alex learns his sister, Vicky, has been found drowned in an icy lake in Lapland and he needs to bring her home. It turns out not to be such a simple task. As Alex meets and talks to Agatha Koskinen, the detective in charge of the investigation, in the small town of Koppe, it appears there are suspicious circumstances surrounding Vicky’s death. It wasn’t accidental and it was a fluke her body was discovered. There have also been several women in the area over the years who have disappeared without a trace.
It transpires that Vicky was well liked and as Agatha and Alex try to make sense of events, separately and together, there are many layers to work through and bit by bit the discover everything isn’t how it seems and there’s more going on than they could have imagined.
Mostly set in the present but with a sub plot of several chapters taking us back to 1998. Kaya is a lonely young woman trapped in a loveless marriage, living on the side of a mountain, and desperate for a way out.
But if she does that, the vengeful satisfaction will be fleeting.
So, instead, she turns and slinks back into town, her tail between her legs and a gnawing feeling in the pit of her stomach that this is not going to go how she’d planned.
The atmospheric Lapland setting is a winter wonderland although a dangerous one, and the harshness of the landscape only adds to the dark and dramatic mood. Koppe is a small town that relies on the tourist industry and the last thing it needs is bad press.
The story starts off slowly and gradually builds up in complexity, action and suspense…a good mixture of murder/mystery and police procedural with some likeable characters and others you wouldn’t want to meet at any time. It took a little while but once I was properly drawn in I really enjoyed this Scandi thriller.
My thanks to NetGalley and Quercus for my review copy
Jo Spain is the author of the bestselling Inspector Tom Reynolds series and several international No. 1 bestselling standalone novels. Her first book, With Our Blessing, was a finalist in the 2015 Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller.
Jo, a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, writes TV screenplays full-time. Her first crime series was broadcast on RTE in 2018 and she’s currently involved in a number of TV developments including adaptations of her own novels. In 2021, she co-wrote Harry Wild, starring Jane Seymour, with the Emmy award-winning David Logan (airing 2022).
Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and four young children. In her spare time (she has four children, there is no spare time really) she likes to read. Her favourite authors include Pierre Lemaitre, Jo Nesbo, Liane Moriarty, Fred Vargas and Jodi Picoult. She also watches TV obsessively.
Jo thinks up her plots on long runs in the woods. Her husband sleeps with one eye open.