The disappearance of a famous blogger does not seem to be a too interesting case for Jessica Niemi and her team of Helsinki police. After a big music business event, she did not come home and has since vanished into thin air. Her roommate also cannot contribute anything to Lisa Yamamoto’s whereabouts. When the body of a Ukrainian prostitute in Manga clothing is washed ashore, the investigators do not link the two events immediately, but, bit by bit, they untangle the complex web and soon find themselves confronted with a network of ill doings which goes far beyond the city limits. While working on the most challenging case of her career, Jessica is still mourning the loss of her former boss and friend while Erne’s successor openly hates and threatens to expose her, thus destroying her carefully constructed life.
Already in the first case for Jessica Niemi, Max Seeck masterfully crafted a highly complex plot which was great to follow as a reader. “The Ice Coven”, too, seems to be not too mystifying at the beginning but then it slowly unfolds its whole potential and turns into a high-paced thriller. The short chapters add to the suspense which rises and only climaxes at the very end even though long before you were fooled to believe you know what is going on.
Apart from the crime story, the book’s most outstanding element is the protagonist. Being familiar with the first instalment, you already know her backstory, the things she hides from her colleagues and the demons that haunt her. Still, there are some white spaces to be discovered in further stories which I am eagerly looking for.
A multi-layered thriller which is hard to put down once you started.
Bea Schumacher is successful blogger – fashion blogger even though as plus size woman this is not necessarily a field where people would expect her. After being disappointed again by Ray with whom she has been in love for many years now, she accepts the offer to take part in the TV show “Main Squeeze” where 25 men compete for her love. Is this a way of finding the perfect match? Bea is hardly convinced and the first encounter with the good looking competitors seem to confirm her worst expectations: disappointed by her body shape, they do not shrink from humiliating her in front of a large audience. But slowly she discovers that some might be able to see beyond her body and detect the woman that she is. Yet, can this really be true or is it just to promote their own popularity?
Kate Stayman-London’s novel oscillates between totally hilarious and deeply sad while addressing some absolutely serious topics. The text is a collage of different text types, the actual narration is interrupted by Bea’s blog entries, Internet comments and newspaper articles which makes it a lively and authentic read since this is how we consume information today: they come in different shapes and only together do they form a whole picture. However, the story relies on the protagonist, a woman who is easy to sympathise with, you simply cannot not love Bea.
What I appreciated most, was how Bea’s weak sides were presented. Never has she felt at ease in her body, the pressure of fitting in and fulfilling certain expectations of the female body’s look have haunted her since her teenage years. Nevertheless, she has become a spokeswoman for those who do not conform which is easy as long as she is more or less invisible behind her blog – being exposed on TV is a different story. TV just like the fashion industry is all but diverse in all respects. The novel convincingly criticises this, yet, they depend on the audience who also needs to move on and open up for other protagonists.