Snow Woman (The Maria Kallio Series #4) by Leena Lehtolainen, Owen Witesman (Translator).
Detective Maria Kallio is called to investigate the disappearance of Elina Roseberg, the director of a woman's retreat center, near Espoo. Maria had some previous contact with the center in an advisory capacity. Concurrently, a deranged killer, Malmberg, is on the loose and it becomes clear that those who put him away, Maria and her partner Palo are his main targets. As events transpire a subtle thread connects the missing woman's life with the escaped killer. Who though is responsible for Elina going missing? Each of the retreat member is a suspect.
The storyline is tight, the translation flows nicely and events unfold at a good pace. The psychological buildup of events draws you in.
Maria works in a charged, tough environment. There is little room for feelings. Sometimes her very femaleness renders her an isolated island amongst all the testosterone.
An enquiring, sensitive and thoroughly likeable character, she often sees things that her detective partners miss. Is the reference to both Elina and Maria as 'snow woman' merely situational, albeit for different reasons, or can one draw deeper inferences from this? When related to Elina it is a comment on how she is found, the unknown-ness, the quiet mystery of of the situation. With Maria it's playful and yet brings into relief her deeper character. There are aspects of Maria's personality that seem to be frozen, repressed. Her life though is thawing, the sun is breaking though. Changes are happening. Continuing that theme, the Finish landscape is bleak, frigid and depressing. You can feel the cold seeping into your bones.
I must say that the ending is surprising, the suspense being held right through until the last few pages. I did not see that coming!
A NetGalley ARC