2 years ago – almost to the day – I reviewed the first two Hella Mauzer novels, one after the other, in a page-turning rush. I also tweeted “I want more!” This was the author’s response. Talk about timing!

#3 duly made its way to me, and as it is published today, the Hella Mauzer series becomes my first series of the month. (See footnote.)

The prologue details the accident in which Hella’s whole family was killed when she was 18. She suspects foul play and has never given up on uncovering the truth one day. So when her former boss (the one who previously kicked her out of the Helsinki homicide squad) asks her in her now PI capacity to run a background check on the man he is about to promote to Head of Homicide, she agrees only on condition that she is given access to the files on the accident.

It turns out that this Johannes Heikkenen is a paragon of virtue. The people she talks too, colleagues, neighbours, relatives have only good things to say about him. The only shadow is the death of his wife in a house fire, following the demise of their baby daughter. And a mad family friend who poisoned his neighbour’s dog. Hella, using the instinct, which is the hallmark of a good detective, the tenaciousness, without which a detective or PI cannot succeed, and the brio, which enables her to unashamedly take liberties (cf the poor toxicologist), uncovers the connection, and unravels what had been a perfect crime.

What about the fatal accident? Hella is no closer to the truth after seeing the files, but, the breakthrough comes by means of a mysterious stranger, who makes multiple visits to her home. However, he flees whenever she appears. This man is looking for her father, and this transports the narrative back to WWII. Trouble is set in 1953, close enough to the war for Hella to be able to retrace events … and work out why her family died as they did in 1942.

A fortuitous crossing of paths (or rather some assiduous plotting on Ivar’s part) brings the two investigations together to provide a satisfying finale to the trilogy. Or does it? Because just when I thought Hella had mellowed a little (she seems less rude and abrasive in Trouble), she makes a decision that will not make her future easy. There may well be further mileage for Katja Ivar in that.

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Footnote: Series of the Month, a series (ahem) of posts in which I attempt to catch up on / complete multiple series in my TBR.