Ghost Island by Max Seeck: Intriguing Mystery

Jessica Niemi is put on leave after a violent altercation between her and a belligerent man makes headlines. To escape the unwanted scrutiny, Jessica travels to a remote island in the Åland archipelago and rents a room at a small seaside inn. She is hoping to be left alone as she faces the possibility that she is losing what is left of her sanity but three elderly visitors have arrived at the inn for their yearly sojourn. Jessica learns that they are the remaining ‘birds of spring’, former refugees who fled Finland as children during World War II and lived together for a few months in an orphanage on the island.

The orphanage no longer exists but the local legend about one of its inhabitants, a girl named Maija, still haunts the surviving orphans. Every evening Maija would put on her blue coat and stand on the pier, looking out at the dark water until one night, she disappeared and was never seen again. When one of the ‘birds of spring’ is found dead, drowned alongside the same pier, and Jessica learns about two other deaths from the past, also connected to the orphanage, she has no choice but to try and put the pieces of this terrifying mystery together.

Jessica can’t be sure whether she’s facing a killer or—just like the legend says—the ghost of Maija, the girl in the blue coat. Uncertain what is real and what is not, Jessica desperately searches for answers that she hopes will stop the murders and finally silence her own demons once and for all…

From the very start of the novel, Max Seeck has created an intriguing mystery within Ghost Island, a mystery that will keep readers riveted as they sift through red herrings and follow along with Jessica as she hunts for the answers to stop the murders. I loved Jessica as a character, most of all because she isn’t perfect, grappling with her past and her own difficulties that leave her floundering at times. But that lack of perfection creates a character that readers care about and root for, as Jessica holds the narrative and keeps the reader concentrating on the mystery.

I loved the noir feel of the novel and the present tense. It isn’t typical but it helps keep your attention on the story and makes you feel very present in the novel. I also like how the narrative shifts from Jessica to other characters, giving the readers insight into the past and into the darkness of the past. The narrative shift is used brilliantly to help shine a light on the mystery and who the killer might be.

If you like noir style mysteries with a complicated female detective, this novel is for you. The characters are fascinating with an intriguing mystery and a riveting story. The intrigue unfolds bit by bit and the ending is fascinating. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 ghosts 

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