&ldquo Even though Hella Mauzer has “high cheek bones, huge eyes, and lovely
legs”, the Finnish police force has seen fit to dispense with her services:
an unfortunate incident with a gun, described in her debut (Evil Things,
2019), has reduced her to being a private investigator on the mean streets
of Helsinki in 1953.
Some sicko is drowning working girls in the harbor—just one example of the
misogyny rampant at the time. Hella, impulsive and intuitive, is a
fascinating character who, on learning that her ex-lover is one of several
suspects, determines to identify the killer. The misdirection and
manipulation of the evidence is worthy of Agatha Christie, but the quirky
humour is Katja Ivar’s own.
Ultimately, though, it is her portrait of Helsinki—“a city of lost
souls”—that is most impressive. Not sure about that kalakukko (fish bread)
“Discover the adventures of Hella Mauzer, a splendid creation by Finnish author Katja Ivar. ’Deep As Death’ really is very, very good. The setting is Finland in 1953, a cold winter during a Cold War, and call-girls are ending up in Helsinki (‘a city for walking fast’) harbour. It ends up as a case for Hella Mauzer, a former cop turned private eye whose struggles against patronising, institutional sexism form a vital plot strand. Mauzer is an engaging protagonist, the 1950’s setting and characters totally convincing. Katja Ivar writes wonderfully.” ShotsMag
“The deaths mount up and the pressure on both Hella and Mustonen for their own distinct purposes reaches boiling point. The book ends up with an utterly unexpected and superb climax. The characters are well-drawn and the setting in a chilly, wintry Helsinki is utterly authentic. It also reflects the social mores of the time and no doubt what are now called the ‘old police ways’. Enjoy!” Law Society Scotland Journal
“June STARRED Pick of the Month: Welcome return for doughty 1950s Finnish cop Hella Mauzer, such a misfit in the male-dominated police force where we first met her in Evil Things, that she’s been fired and is trying to make her way as a private detective. Roped in by her old boss to investigate a case he doesn’t care about — the death of a prostitute — she finds herself on another excursion into the dark heart of Cold War Finland. “Sunday Times Crime Club
Hella Mauzer was the first-ever woman Inspector in the Helsinki Homicide Unit. But she’s been fired despite solving her first murder case. This is Helsinki, March 1953. An unusually long and cold winter, everywhere frozen sea, ice-covered lakes and rivers. In a port city flooded with refugees, who cares if a young woman goes missing? An up-and-coming inspector who views this as an opportunity to advance his career. A heartbroken PI with a score to settle. They have yet to discover one thing: the most dangerous lies are those we tell ourselves. It all begins when Nellie, a prostitute working in a high-end brothel is found floating upside down in Helsinki Harbor. Not exactly a high priority case for the Helsinki police, so homicide chief Jokela passes the job to his former colleague Hella. It’s beginning to look like a serial killer is at work when Elena, another lady of the night, narrowly escapes being driven into the harbor by her 19-year-old john. Problem was he had handcuffed her in the car. And to add further excitement to Hella’s life, the madam is soon found dead in the garden outside the brothel. What begins like a taut whodunit turns into something more tantalizing and psychological as Hella investigates different suspects, including Steve, the US DJ and love of her life, reluctant to leave his wife for Hella, and the fascinating Inspector Mustonen, charismatic, ambitious and trying desperately to live up to the standards of his high maintenance wife. There are dark powers at play, as well as lighter passages, particularly those involving Anita, voluptuous but savvy, freshly arrived from Lapland to join the Helsinki police force, a most unwanted roommate for Hella. Sadly she too ends up in deep trouble, in a satisfying denouement of twists and turns.