Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Light in a Dark House – Jan Costin Wagner

Light in a Dark House

Finnish detective Kimmo Joentaa is called to the local hospital in which his young wife died several years before. An unidentified woman in a coma has been murdered by someone who wept over the body, their tears staining the sheets around her. The death marks the start of a series of killings, with the unknown patient at their centre.

As you can see for a lover of serial killer crime fiction this seemed like the perfect read. I found the start of this book quite slow, there are quite a few characters all of whom initially seem unconnected.
The book starts with an excerpt from a diary written in August 1985 about a woman sat at a piano, the writer of the diary is a complete mystery. We then skip to autumn in Finland where policeman

‘Kimmo Joentaa was living with a woman with no name. The anticyclone keeping the weather fine had been christened Magdalena. The woman told people to call her Larissa.’

This style of writing took some getting used to and maybe if I hadn’t been given this book in return for a review that I may not have persevered. I am glad that I did if only to experience a different kind of crime fiction. Once the strands of the story begin to come together the links between the unknown woman in the hospital and other murders in public places become clear. The excerpts from the diary from 1985 and the present time really helped to move the plot along and bring clarity to the story.

The underlying themes are sadness and casual violence. There aren’t massive descriptions of horrific deaths, these almost happen off-stage but the feeling of menace is there on every single page. It is quite an unsettling book with all the policemen involved in hunting the hunter having sub-plots with characters that didn’t always seem to entirely to fit into the story but increased the feeling of sadness, it felt like there wasn’t one uncomplicated moment in the whole book.

If you like dark novels with a twist in the tale then this may be the one for you.

About the author

Jan Costin Wagner is a German crime fiction writer. His novels are set in Finland and feature detective Kimmo Joentaa.


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

2 thoughts on “Light in a Dark House – Jan Costin Wagner

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