Loss and the infinite ways we attempt to come to terms with it permeate this absorbing psychological mystery, Wagner's third novel and the first available in English translation, set in the Finnish town of Turku. A week after his wife dies of Hodgkin's disease, Det. Kimmo Joentaa feels compelled to return to work to investigate the murder of a young woman smothered in her own bed while her husband was away. Only a valueless painting appears to have been stolen. A second murder, just as puzzling, occurs in a youth hostel where a young man is killed while others slept all around him. Joentaa is sure the murders are connected and even feels inexplicably close to the killer. Though Wagner sometimes shifts awkwardly to the troubled killer's point of view, the despairing Kimmo Joentaa and the large cast of supporting characters are well drawn. This skillful mystery will have readers hoping Wagner's previous novels will soon be available in English. (May)
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During the coldest summer in memory, Finnish police detective Kimmo Joentaa is shattered by the death of his wife. To avoid being consumed by his grief, he returns to work and is assigned to investigate the murder of a woman who was smothered while she slept. Two more murders follow, and Kimmo wonders if the serial killer, who specializes in seemingly "peaceful" deaths, isn't the only thing keeping him from total despair. Told largely through the thoughts of the policeman and the killer, Ice Moon is another superior crime novel from Scandinavia. But it's bleak, perhaps bleaker than any of Henning Mankell's emotionally harrowing Kurt Wallander novels. And, because much of the narrative mines the thoughts of two tormented men, it lacks the strong sense of place found in Mankell's tales. That's too bad, because the locale of Turku, Finland, is little known to vast numbers of crime fans. Here's hoping Costin Wagner brings Kimmo back and offers a more detailed look at Finnish life. Thomas Gaughan
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