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Thursday, November 5, 2020

#ATBR2020 Review: The Witch Hunter by Max Seeck

The Witch Hunter 
by Max Seeck

Thank you Berkley and NetGalley for these review copies.

Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: October 27, 2020
400 Pages
Series: Jessica Niemi #1
Genres: Suspense, Thriller, Police Procedural

A shocking murder in an affluent Helsinki suburb has ties to the occult in this thrilling US debut from Finnish author Max Seeck.

A bestselling author’s wife has been found dead in a gorgeous black evening gown, sitting at the head of a formally set dinner table. Her most chilling feature—her face is frozen in a ghastly smile.

At first it seems as though a deranged psychopath is reenacting the gruesome murders from The Witch Hunter, the bestseller written by the victim’s husband. But investigator Jessica Niemi soon realizes she’s not looking for a single killer but rather for dozens of believers in a sinister form of witchcraft.

They know her every move and are always one step ahead. As the bodies start piling up, Jessica knows they won’t stop until they get what they want. And when her dark past comes to light, Jessica finds herself battling her own demons while desperately trying to catch a coven of killers before they claim their next victim.

My Review:

A serial killer mirroring crimes to the crimes in a book?  And their gruesome? AND based on historical methods? Um, all the YES... please! 😏 Book one in the Jessica Niemi series, Seeck gets us warm and comfortable in getting to know our main protagonist while still feeding us the gory goodness that nordic noir (in my experience) has a fantastic reputation for. ❤

Sometimes I feel that first-in-a-series books tend to focus on the plot with a little bit of character development to really engage the reader into wanting to read further.  I sometimes feel a bit wanting to know more about the main character(s).. so I guess, good job? 🤷🤣 Seeck provides BOTH.  A solid look into Niemi AND an engaging premise with crimes to solve.

There's a bit of a parallel story line that we get and we bounce between them during our journey.  While I do believe this gets us a good look at Niemi and her character as a detective and woman, I did find my eyes glazing a bit at these and wanting to sprint back to the other storyline.  Sometimes I felt that there was just *too* much going on to really focus my attention at times.  I know, I know... not enough or too much? WHY AM I SO HARD TO SATISFY?

What I love the best is the atmosphere most nordic noir brings that no other genre can really compare to.  The movie that plays in my head when I read these are SO VIVID and I love every minute of it.  While I had some small issues with this read, it is a solid first entry into a series that I think will satiate any nordic noir/gory crime lover.


Jessica's Review:

I’ve always been a fan of the Nordic Noir genre when it comes to mysteries and police procedurals. Also, who doesn’t enjoy a book where you’re the main character? THE WITCH HUNTER is the first book in the Jessica Niemi series. If you’re looking for something creepy, atmospheric, and suspenseful then this needs to be on your TBR.

This was very unique when it came to the plot – a string of gruesome murders based on a book. Who doesn’t love a book within a book? Jessica Niemi is one the case of the murder of the wife of a famous author. The murder scene was staged to look like an occult ritual, but the horrific scene was eerily similar to a part of her husband’s book. When more bodies are discovered the investigators must turn to the books to see what could happen next.

There were enough characters to keep you guessing, but not too many to cause confusion. The pacing of the investigation was spot on. Sometimes with Nordic Noir books they can feel painfully slow moving, so this was a nice surprise as the book progressed. The best part about this genre though, is the way the authors set the scene and create the atmosphere. I felt like I was right there with Jessica in Helsinki following the clues and scouring the books.

I loved how the author offered us little clues and details throughout the book, and there were even some that clicked later on for me. I would caution that there were some graphic and twisted parts that not all readers may enjoy (the darker the better for a murder mystery if you ask me). I can’t wait to see where book two takes Jessica Niemi!

4 stars

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