Wednesday, September 08, 2010


Turku, Finland, during the summer of 1974 Parsinnen and another man watch pornographic films involving children. Later Parsinnen rapes and murders a young girl, Pia Lehtinen, and dumps her body in a lake, while this other man watches.
The other man immediately packs up and leaves Turku and does not contact Parsinnen again until......

Thirty three years later one of the detectives on that case Ketola retires and takes home with him the model they made all those years ago of the crime scene.
Later that summer another girl goes missing and her bicycle, with blood on it, is found abandoned by the side of the road at the same cross that marked Pia Lehtinen's murder.
Has the same killer returned to commit another dreadful crime?
Dtective Kimmo Joentaa asks for help from Ketola, and they go back to investigate the earlier murder, while their colleagues continue to search for the body of the new victim, Sinikka Vehkasalo.
When the news appears on television Timo Korvensuo, an estate agent living a happy normal life in Helsinki with his wife and two children, feels the need to drive to Turku and seek out his old associate, Parsinnen.

Silence by Jan Costin Wagner, translated from the German by Anthea Bell, is a fine police procedural with some nice twists and turns, only some of which are predictable. The author might be considered not to play quite fair with the readers at one point, but the clues are there if you read carefully.
Jan Costin Wagner was born near Frankfurt, and divides his time between Germany and Finland, his wife's home country, and to me the book appears very northern European in that it is both a police procedural, and a dark psychological thriller.

Silence is a very bleak sad story dealing with addiction to child pornography, personal loss and guilty conscience. Also because both detectives, Kimmo and Ketola, have had great personal tragedies occur in their lives there are not many laughs in this story. But then the possession of child pornography, and the danger that those addicted to this perversion slip over from watching it on screen to wanting to participate is no laughing matter.

'Nothing simpler. It's the same man. For some reason or other he's come back. He must be out of his mind, but then he was already out of his mind thirty-three years ago, and now he's lost control again after thirty three years.'

Silence is a good read, with sharply drawn characters, whose thoughts and motivations are explored in detail, but it is not a book to try if you are feeling a little depressed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nrman - Thanks for this excellent review. A crime fiction book doesn't have to be an uplifting book to be very well-written and with important things to say. This one sounds like a very good read and as you say, child pornography is not something one can really be upbeat about.

4:45 AM  
Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

I am so looking forward to reading this, Norman, as I loved his first. I have not read your review yet, but will do so when I have read the book. I'm bookmarking your review on Filament (my microblog) for this purpose.

12:54 PM  

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