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Hella Mauzer was the first ever woman Inspector in the Helsinki Homicide Unit. But her superiors deemed her too ‘emotional’ for the job and had her reassigned. Now, two years later, she is working in Lapland for the Ivalo police department under Chief Inspector Järvi, a man more interested in criminal statistics and his social life than police work. They receive a letter from Irja Waltari, a priest’s wife from the village of Käärmela on the Soviet border, informing them of the disappearance of Erno Jokinen, a local. Hella jumps at the chance to investigate. Järvi does not think that a crime is involved. After all, people disappear all the time in the snows of Finland. When she arrives, Hella stays the village priest and his wife, who have taken in Erno’s grandson who refuses to tell anyone his grandfather’s secret. A body is then discovered in the forest and she realizes that she was right; a crime has been committed. A murder. But what Hella doesn’t know, is that the small village of Käärmela is harbouring another crime, a crime so evil, it is beyond anything any of them could have ever imagined.
Set in Finnish Lapland in 1952 amid the overarching threat of East vs. West conflict, Ivar's stellar first novel and series launch revolves around two crucial struggles for emancipation that of the nation of Finland after centuries of foreign rule, and that of Finnish women. Hella Mauzer, the first female Helsinki murder squad detective, is dispatched to a remote Lapland village near the Soviet border by her chauvinistic boss to investigate an old man's disappearance. Embittered by the death of her entire immediate family during WWII and her recent breakup with her married lover, the 30ish, stiletto-tongued Hella tries to behave professionally like a man, but she defies male authority by using her instinct for detecting half-truths and her compassion for the weak to try to solve what initially appears to be a minor missing person case. With the discovery of the body of a Soviet doctor, it mushrooms into something much more complex involving institutional corruption and international intrigue. The unusual setting and psychologically complex heroine will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next installment.