The Cold War? A female police officer in 1952? A missing man? What on EARTH is going on in Käärmela?
If this sounds like your cup of tea, get ready for Evil Things by Katja Ivar.
A new heroine in crime fiction, Hella Mauzer is a whip-smart detective, fighting crime, prejudice, and her own demons.
Evil Things reveals Finland engaged in the high-wire act of guarding its independence at the height of the Cold War. A decade – in the 1950s – where the women who did their husbands’ and brothers’ jobs during the war were sent home to shut up and keep house.
A female police officer who refuses the limitations imposed on her and fights to uncover the truth surrounding a gruesome murder.
A delight when you start uncovering the truth
The first 20-odd pages are really good in setting the scene for the reader and explaining what these times were like for women in work, as well as more information the readers needs for this Nordic Noir. Whilst uncovering some hidden gems about the protagonist, you understand her need for figuring out this crime and going against her superior’s wishes.
With the incredible writing flowing and short chapters (often 2/3 pages long), it makes for a quick read. About 70% of the chapters were from Hella’s perspective, and the others from Irja. These weren’t defined enough for me, as the tone was relatively similar, but it doesn’t take away from the reader’s experience.
I really loved how the first half geared you up with information coming to light, and the second half just tears into you and everything starts making sense. No stone is left unturned in this book – a nice, quick read for you to get stuck into.
I almost imagined myself there, however there was much more conversation in Evil Things than in other Nordic Noirs, and I wasn’t immediately transported to the location through descriptions, however it was super cold in my room whilst reading, so I did feel like I was there in a way. 4D reader experience, and all.
My only issue is that I say ‘hella’ as in ‘hellllaaaa good’ ALL the time. Now, it is absolutely nothing to do with the book or author, just my generation of language, but every time the protagonist’s name was mentioned (which was Hella lots – sorry, see what I mean?), it took me a second to recompose myself.
Other than this clear issue I have with myself, Hella was a great character to weave into the story, especially when in a way, you don’t know where her head was at. I’m still not sure whether I totally like her as a person, but a very interesting figure. I’ll definitely be picking up the next books to see where the future takes her.
I wouldn’t necessarily say the murder is ‘gruesome’ (in comparison to lots of other murder scenes I have read) and doesn’t actually focus on the murder too much itself. It’s all about the bigger picture with the book, making it a delight when you start uncovering the truth.
A really interesting concept, entirely unpredictable and a great start to a series. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical side of this book, especially when it all comes together in a clever way.
Evil Things, Katja Ivar, RRP £8.99 (paperback); Book Depository
Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press
Genre: Nordic Noir/ Crime Fiction / Historical Fiction