A young woman’s corpse washes up on a near-frozen Helsinki beach. She is dressed in a manga costume and there are suspicious marks on her arm that suggest some kind of torture. At about the same time, two famous Instagram influencers go missing after a party. Jessica, her colleague Yusef and the rest of the team are assigned the cases with few clues to go on. Jessica eventually discovers that both the murder victim and the two disappeared Instagram celebrities have ties to a cult whose forms of worship involve unspeakable acts of cruelty and violence. As she finds herself hunting the truth about the murder and the disappearances, an old enemy emerges and threatens to destroy her…
Max Seeck made an acclaimed debut with The Witch Hunter, the first installment in a series featuring Detective Jessica Niemi with the Violent Crimes Unit at the Helsinki Police. Now six months have passed since Jessica’s encounter with the mysterious serial-killing coven of witches and the death of her mentor. Her nightmares about her mother and the witchcraft that undid her have gotten worse, but she’s doing what she can to stay focused. She is still mourning the loss of her former boss and friend Erne, while his successor openly hates and threatens to expose her, thus destroying her carefully constructed life. Jessica is a complex and fascinating heroine, a brilliant detective with a dysfuctional background and many dark secrets. The crimes she is set to investigate all have ties to her personal history and Jessica´s internal struggle deepens the story.
Unique and riveting
Max Seeck is a master at creating fascinating settings and completely unique plots. He was born in Helsinki and paints a detailed and realistic picture of the city, where you may literally follow in the footsteps of the detectives. Apart from that The Ice Coven is incredibly different from the ordinary police procedural. The author merges routine police work with social media hacks, elements of Japanese popular culture, and spices the story with links to global crime and eerie references to the occult. The murder mystery is complex and multi-layered with many unexpected twists. The overall gothic atmosphere and the short chapters heighten the tension and keeps the reader glued to the pages.
The Ice Coven may be read as a standalone, as the author does provide background to the current events. But if you really want to get to know Jessica Niemi, I would recommend reading in order, because The Witch Hunter tells more about her early history.