Cover Image: The Witch Hunter

The Witch Hunter

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This one was generally okay for me. Sometimes detective stories work for me, but often I find them slow. This was a mix of interesting ideas and a bit too slow burn for me

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What a start to a series! I absolutely love dark and gritty Nordic noir detective stories and that’s exactly what Seeck has delivered with The Witch Hunter. From the start you could feel that something was deeply off about many of the characters and situations within this book. The depths that Seeck took the plot were engrossing despite being unsettling. I loved that the killers took inspiration from a book series and the lore that was associated with them.

Our main character, Jessica, is clearly motivated to find out what is happening with her case. Seeck takes this to the next level by Jessica having an actual connection to the killers, as she finds herself being hunted and watched. I greatly enjoyed that Seeck included chapters that were backstory to Jessica’s life, but I would have preferred that they be labeled that way. The transition was random and always a little jarring for me.

Overall, I loved this series kickoff and will definitely be reading book 2, The Ice Coven, ASAP!

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Investigator Jessica Niemi is called to the scene of a murder that seems to be the first of many mimicking a popular book series. This book is a fun and wild ride and an easy reading experience. I like the shifting POVs that keep things moving fast along with the super short chapters. There is a lot happening in this book - multiple layers of conflict in the case and with the characters. I still have some questions in the end, even though there is closure, so maybe I missed some things. I craved a more detailed and thorough ending but it was still a fun reading experience. I can't wait to read more from Max Seeck!

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This book was very choppy and hard to get into. I couldn't get a feel for what I was reading. The characters didn't stick and the plot was flat all around. Although the synopsis was promising, the delivery wasn't there.

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As much as I would have loved to get into this book, it was so dense that I couldn't enjoy it. The plot was boring and dragged on.

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My Highly Caffeinated Thought: A eerie tale of murder and witchcraft pushing the investigator to question those around her as well as her past.

THE WITCH HUNTER takes the best of a police procedural and melds it with the dark world of the occult. Seeck blew me away with his ability to create a wonderfully sinister and complex tale.

What a book! From the introduction of the characters to the investigation of a series of grisly murders to the unveiling of a somewhat secret group of occultists, this book has it all. Even with all the chills and thrills, the author didn’t neglect his characters. Their development, as well as their interactions and relationships, feed the narrative as well.

There is an evil that comes alive within these pages. It is one that lead investigator, Jessica Niemi, is pulled into on multiple levels. It is here that the author shines. The way the story unfolds allows the reader to learn as Niemi does. The carefully constructed scenes are prime to create a level of suspense and tension to keep you on the edge of your seat.

If this is the beginning of the Jessica Niemi trilogy, imagine what is to come next.

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The Witch Hunter is the first installment in author Max Seeck's Jessica Niemi series. Set in Helsinki, Finland, there are multiple viewpoints, but Jessica's is the main one. After the wife of best selling author Roger Koponen is found murdered while the author himself is at a book signing for his best selling series The Witch Hunter, Sergeant Jessica Niemi becomes lead investigator in what is about to become a twisted, mind blowing, twisted race to discover who is responsible and why.

Upon arriving at the scene, Jessica finds the victim in a strange and ritualistic way; posed at a table in a beautiful evening dress and with expensive shoes. To make things more twisted, the killer may have been in the same room as Jessica and her team, and walked away without being seen. Hours later another body is found in the lake behind their property drowned and frozen in the water. Visions of the occult begin to appear following the discovery of a Latin phrase on the first victim's rooftop - a reference to a book on torturing and punishing women who are suspected of being witches.

As the story progresses, the bodies seem to pile up. The victims mirror the murders from the The Witch Hunter books. The murders are symbolic of how witches were killed back in the seventeenth century. The rest of her team includes Yusuf Pepple, Rasmus Susikoski, Mikael Kaariniemi and Nina Ruska. Detective Jessica Niemi is the central character. She's a complex character, excellent at her job but she doesn’t trust easily in her work or personal life.

She is very much a loner, keeping her secrets close with the exception of her boss Chief Superintendent Erne Mikson, the only person we see a softer side with. The story also takes a deeper look into the characters background, and her actions when she planned on crossing Europe, but ended up in a dicey situation with a man she fell head over heels in love with. While readers will do what I did, feel confused by the flashbacks, when you get to the end, it makes absolute sense.

One could say that Max Seek wrote this as an ode to Nordic Noir. This novel was extremely creepy and intriguing and leaves a strange ending for readers to deal with. I was gifted with the sequel, and will try to fit it in prior to Halloween.

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I’m usually a fan of Nordic noir but I didn’t click with this story. I had a hard time keeping the characters straight. It was a decent story with some good turns and twists.

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In a wealthy suburb of Helsinki, Finland, the wife of a best-selling author is found dead sitting in her evening gown at the head of a beautifully set dinner table. It appears that someone is re-enacting the murders from the victim's husband's book The Witch Hunter, but as more and more bodies are found dead, investigator Jessica Niemi realizes that she isn't looking for a single killer, but for any number of believers in witchcraft.

It seems that I am often reading a book that is part of an already established series, so I was excited to find this, the first book in what I presume will be a series featuring detective Jessica Niemi.

Also, there is a style of thriller/detective fiction known as "Nordic Noir" which is crime fiction written from a Scandinavian point of view. This was probably made most famous by Stieg Larsson and his Millennium series but includes authors such as Arnaldur Indriðason, Jo Nesbø, and Åsa Larsson (authors I have read). This had a unique appeal because this is written by a Finnish author - a country not yet represented in my own Nordic Noir reading.

So, for various reasons, this was an attractive book for me to dig into, but sadly, the actual reading of the book was quite unsatisfying.

Reading the book was a chore, and I'm not sure if that was a result of author Max Seeck's work, or the result of the translation. There was no smooth flow in the language, but rather it was hard and choppy, not something you expect in a noir-style crime novel. It was really hard to sit down and open this book, knowing what I was going to have to read. Yes, "have to."

The plot and the incidents within the story really seemed to come about randomly. Of course, our protagonist is flawed (this seems a pretty common move - to make a detective someone struggling with their own demons) so some of the randomness I was feeling was a shift in story focus ... was this about the murders? About Jessica's issues? Something else?

This was disappointing enough that I'm quite sure it's my first and last Max Seeck book.

Looking for a good book? The Witch Hunter by Max Seeck is a 'Nordic Noir' crime novel that is a struggle to read.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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A famous writer's wife is found dead and no one knows what happened? SIGN.ME.UP.

I was excited for the premise of this book. Overall, I had an okay time reading it. I love crime novels/police procedurals so those aspects of the book didn't confuse me...but by the end all of the characters started to run together and the plot just left me totally confused. I think I know what happened, but I'm not sure I could accurately describe it to someone else. I feel like this book started off really strong and either I got lost along the way, or the plot did.

3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 because I can't bring myself to give it 4.

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Oooh, this one is good! Super dark, thrilling, and a chilly type of thriller. Loved the element with the author and his work - kept surprising me throughout!

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When the Helsinki police arrive at the lakeside home of Maria Koponen, they find her dressed in a long black evening gown and high heels at the dining room table, her face contorted into a Joker-like smile. It’s odd scene that turns eerie when they realize she is dead.
Arriving at the scene, policewoman Jessica Niemi briefly talks to one of the techs processing the scene and then, as he’s leaving, discovers that he isn’t part of the team. She quickly runs after him, but he’s disappeared, seemingly into nowhere.
As for Maria’s husband, Roger, he is hours away in Savonlinna giving a talk about his bestselling books, the Witch Hunt trilogy. The police chief in Savonlinna volunteers to drive him back to Helsinki and though it’s already late, they begin the long drive. At first all seems well, but then the Helsinki police lose contact with them and they never arrive at the station. A search along the road they were traveling turns up their burned bodies in the woods.
But is Roger Koponen really dead? A security camera at a passenger station picks up his image. Indeed, he seems to want to be recognized as he boldly stares straight into the lens.
“Basically the book tells a very creepy story about a murderous coven, that go after people they think are witches,” says Max Seeck, author of The Witch Hunter (Berkley 2020; $17), the first of his five books to be translated from Finnish to English. “All the murders are copied from a bestselling author’s trilogy.”
Creepy indeed. Not only are the victims killed in the same manner as in Koponen’ s books, as Niemi leads the investigative team in trying to stop any further deaths, but she also has to deal with her own dark past. The only survivor of a car accident that killed her parents and brother, she’s inherited a fortune but doesn’t want anyone to know. She has gone so far as to establish a small apartment—commensurate with what a lowly paid policewoman could afford--that has a door leading to the sumptuous living quarters where she really resides. But being wealthy isn’t her only secret. Years earlier she killed her abusive lover and only one person knows. That’s her boss, who is like a father to her. But he now is dying, leaving her vulnerable. That vulnerability increases when the other investigators on the case note that all the dead women--dark haired and beautiful--are similar in looks to Niemi.
It looks like the killers may be targeting Niemi and she’s ordered to stay home. But that’s not easy for her as she’s determined to solve the case.

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I was immediately drawn into this story. The author sets the scene perfectly, dropping readers in moments before the murder occurs. I loved the mystery, but my favorite part of this story was the detective, Jessica Niemi. I really enjoyed the flashbacks into her past that really help to build suspense.

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I started reading this book last year but couldn't get into it, so I put it down and picked it up again at the beginning of April. I am glad I gave this book a second chance. It wasn't my favorite book of the year but it also wasn't my least favorite.

I thought the author did a great job of making each death unique and throwing a lot of twists and turns into the story. I also like that we were learning Jessica Niemi's back story at the same time, I totally thought one thing while we learned the story and I ended up being wrong.

I would give another Max Seeck book a chance in the future.

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I didn’t end up finishing this one. It wasn’t for me, I couldn’t get into the writing. After the beginning, the book just failed to capture my attention at any point.

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A fantastic psychological thriller that kept me guessing until the very end. I will definetely be checking out the author's other titles. very well written.

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THE WITCH HUNTER • Max Seeck • ⭐️⭐️💫{rounded up}

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for an eARC of the first book in the Jessica Niemi series! I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

UGHHHHH, this book had SO much potential. The book starts off so strong! The reader is immediately drawn in. The altering perspectives, the suspense, and a wonderfully written Scandinavian atmosphere...Unfortunately though, things quickly became murky and never really cleared up. Ultimately, it seems that the plot suffered from too many ideas, too many characters, and no clear direction.

While the writing itself was strong the whole way through, I felt lost for most of the book. This hindered my ability to enjoy the story. It seemed that the author was never quite sure himself which way he wanted this story to play out. Is this a novel about a series of mysteriously choreographed killings featuring occult themes, or a story featuring crime with a focus on the lead detective with a dark past? Seeck did not seem to be too sure, and clumsily wove the two stories together, never quite managing to tie them together in the end.

TL;DR: This was almost an original, fantastic addition to the crime/suspense genre! Seeck definitely has talent. Sadly, he just tried to do too much and lost his plot (and his readers) along the way. A second book has already been added to this series, it just has yet to be translated into English. I do not plan on picking it up, but I wish the author the best!

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This book was exactly what I had been looking for. Witchy occult murder mystery. The premise sounded amazing. Occult murders mirroring a famous author's mystery novels. I had some trouble with the character development in this book. This story started off strong but the ending fell flat and felt rushed.

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While we do have many thriller/suspense aficionados who frequent our store, this title seemed a bit too far out of the normal for our bookstore patrons. The writing is wonderful and held my attention. The plot and some of the graphic horror included seemed almost gratuitous and I could not get into it. Thank you kindly for the opportunity to read and review The Witch Hunter.

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I made it to about the first chapter in this book but did not find myself drawn into the story line.

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