Cover Image: The Last Grudge

The Last Grudge

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Member Reviews

I did not finish this one, it was not for me, I couldn't relate to the characters, and just did not care for the story.

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The Last Grudge by Max Seeck is the third in the Detective Jessica Niemi series.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Berkley Publishing  and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Series Background:    (Warning – Contains spoilers from previous books) Detective Jessica Jessica Niemi has suffered a lot of loss in her life.  She was the only survivor of a car crash when she was six and has neurological pain.  Her parents and brother died in that crash.  Then she lost her foster parents.  Jessica works for the Helsinki Violent Crimes Unit of the Police Department. Recently her boss/mentor and father figure, Erne Mikson, passed away from cancer.  She is still having nightmares about her mother, and the coven of witches from a recent case.   She is a very private person, and until recently, only Erne was aware of how wealthy she really is.   She and her new boss - Helena Lappi - have recently come to an uneasy "agreement", to keep part of Jessica's past secret.   The rest of her team includes Yusuf Pepple, Rasmus Susikoski,  and Nina Ruska.  Nina and Jessica have a strained relationship ever since Jessica slept with Nina's boyfriend Mikael, who ended up being a bad guy anyways.  

My Synopsis:    (No major reveals, but if concerned, skip to My Opinions)
Eliel Zetterborg, a powerful magnate has been found in his Helsinki condo, a knife through his heart.  He is a hated man, and has many enemies, but it may not be that simple.

Meanwhile, Jessica is on leave to deal with the wrist that was smashed in her last case.  Although her boss has said she can have desk duty, Jessica has other plans.  She is still be haunted by nightmares, and during her last case, a man attacked her and whispered a phrase that later lead them to a dead body.  Could these things have something to do with that coven of witches they uncovered not too long ago?

Yusuf has been tasked with leading the team to find the killer of Zetterborg, but soon finds that he needs Jessica's help.  But that may not be possible, and now there's another body.

My Opinions:
Okay, these are really long books (or so they seem), but the plots and characters are such that I want to continue reading them.  I really like all the team members, and although Jessica took more of a back-seat in this one, I liked Yusuf stepping up, and everything went well (but I hope the next one has more of Jessica).

I still have problems with the unfamiliar people and place names, but I'm ignoring that, since it's my problem - not the books.

The book was about family, but I think it was mainly about greed and deception.

I was actually disappointed with the identity of the killer (I was rooting for that person).  However, let's just say that everyone got what they deserved.

So, overall, I will continue with this series, and if you like complex, intriguing Nordic thrillers, you may want to join me.

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An executive has been found murdered in his upscale Helsinki home. The police find a photo of him with three colleagues, all with faces scratched out, causing them to think the murder is targeting more than just his man.

Detective Jessica Niemi is called back to the Helsinki police by her partner, Yusuf, to help investigate. And past evil seems to rear its ugly head again.

He is true Nordic Noir at his best. I enjoyed this, and it's strong female protagonist.

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After the first few pages, I knew this was a book I wasn’t going to be able to put down, until I got to The End. Compulsive and gripping! Suspenseful, addictive and complex! Will keep you swiping the pages furiously. If you like absolutely unpredictable, twisted suspense as much as I do, you can't go wrong with this book!

*I received a complimentary ARC of this book in order to read and provide a voluntary, unbiased and honest review, should I choose to do so.

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I loved that this book circles back to The Witch Hunter (book #1) at the same time the rest of the team is working on a new case with a possible motive from 30 years ago. Again, I am grateful that these books have been translated into English so that we all get a chance to enjoy them.

Highly recommend the Jessica Niemi series by Max Seeck.

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How does Seeck manage to keep coming up with such fantastic cases for this series? I absolutely love every single book!

In the third installment for this series, we’re back with familiar characters in the Helsinki police department, as well as nods and connections to former cases from previous books. While I think you might be able to read this one without the previous two titles, the series is currently so short that I recommend starting with book one.

Just like with previous installments, Seeck holds true to the grit and darkness of Nordic Noir. The case is intricately detailed with small hints revealed along the way. The twists and turns are so subtly delivered that at times I didn’t see them coming at all. Seeck’s writing is so smooth that the reader is completely engrossed with every single plotline and possible outcome in each of these novels.

I simply cannot recommend this series more!

A huge thank you to Berkley for my gifted copy!

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It took me a bit to get into this book, at least in part I think, due to the fact that I hadn't read the two earlier books in the series. I didn't warm to the characters right away and references to the past were a bit lost on me. The book starts with a bang and then moves to background information that slows the pace at the beginning. Once we're through with that, though, the pace picks up as Seeck presents us with multiple plot lines that swirl around one another leaving the reader on uncertain ground. I love this approach, and truly enjoyed the book from that point on. The story takes place in the present and has flashbacks to several points in the past that are slowly added into the mix, confusing and enlightening the reader in equal measure.

Jessica Niemi, the series' main character, is on leave from the police force when an obscenely wealthy industrialist is killed. Her partner, Detective Sergeant Yusef Pepple, is charged with leadership of the case…his first time in this role. As the investigation continues, he struggles with his confidence but nonetheless is able to make tough decisions. Part of the appeal of the book comes from joining him on this journey and, by the end of the book, I found myself caring quite a bit about what happens to him. Jessica comes back from her leave to become unofficially involved in the case because Yusef is desperate for her expertise. However, her struggles with the psychological fallout from the case that was developed over the previous two books both impede her participation in Yusef's case and distract Yusef from closing out the murder investigation. Seeck develops both Jessica and Yusef's characters extremely well, especially given that a third book in a series can often rely on readers' previous experiences with the primary investigators. Other members of the police force are equally well developed, as are the main suspects in the murder case.

Seeck writes quite well, holding off on ramping up the action until the characters' personalities and motivation are developed. From that point on, the book is very hard to put down. The twists come fast but don't feel contrived, and they continue right up until the very end. The conclusion makes sense and is satisfying on both plot and human levels.

Although I missed the first two in the series, I have become invested in the series after reading this excellent most recent offering. I'll definitely be watching for book #4.

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I wouldn't call this the 3rd book in the Witch Hunter series ... maybe book 2.5? The mystery and crime are great, but hardly anything is added to Jessica's whole story arc. I was interested in the characters but it didn't feel like a continuation of the series as much as a spinoff. Thank you for the ARC.

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This was an intense book! I loved the descriptive scenes though it felt so real. The author has such a way with words it kept me turning the pages. I will have to check out other books by this author as I really enjoyed the action packed story of this one.

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This was another great installment in the series, Seeck writes very intricately, detailed crime novels, they are layered and built up beautifully. There are a lot of characters, but not too many. There are a lot of angles, but again, not too many. I think this balance is difficult to get, but Seeck does it well. There are more components than the average novel which helps make it more dynamic, but not too much to be over, bearing over it load you.

The main detective Jessica takes a backseat in this novel, as she is, I’ll leave. We still get glimmers of her, but I did miss her being the lead. However, that allowed for her partner, Yusuf, to get a little more attention. I think this helps build up his character, so that when they are reunited in a future book, the depth of their story arc will be much deeper. So I’m looking forward to that!

Any crime fiction fan will love this series, I highly recommend it, and I do feel as if these books can be read as standalone novels.

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Full disclosure: I didn't realize this was book 3 in a series until I started reading. That's on me, but I will add that there were a few times when I felt like I was missing some piece of information. I did figure it out eventually, so it wasn't totally confusing, but I'd still recommend reading the books in order. I have a feeling that would eliminate any head-scratchers as this one moves along.
It wasn't hard to figure out that Detective Jessica Niemi is the star of this crime series, but her partner, Yusuf, certainly showed his own talent for investigation here. I ended up really liking Yusuf. The story is a procedural, which is one of my favorites in the suspense genre, and there's a murder to solve. We also spend some time in the past and it's way into the novel before we get the whole connection (nope, you're not getting it here).
I'll stop there before I give away the book's secrets, but I will say that the book is very well written with interesting characters. I enjoyed Max Seeck's writing style, and I'm now curious enough about the first two books and their storylines that I will be checking those out. As for this one, I'd certainly recommend it.

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Police procedural, detective stories are absolutely one of my weaknesses. I get immersed in the mystery solving, and want to know every detail! So when an author does an amazing job with the world building, and detail description I love that novel THAT much more!! I hope this isn't the last in the series, I'm so excited to see what's next!!

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A third in the series, and you definitely need to reed previous books to understand what is happening.

This one felt cluncky (maybe it's the translation). There are two stories happening, which is normal in thriller series. We have to have the ghosts of the past come back. And that's what is happening. Jessica Niemi is the MC, but she is off on health holiday, still recuperating from her previous injuries. But also, she is on a mission. She thinks that the cult/witches of her past are back, and are following her. She starts to investigate. But her coworkers need help as the newest case - a locked room murder mystery, is hard to follow and investigate.

Per usual, the killer and the murder is clever. I couldn't put it together without going through the whole book. This time, the book is more cinematic, changing POV's, even the narrator style. Not sure how I feel about it, as it is more show, than investigation kind of storytelling.

I'm not sure if this is the end to Jessica Niemi story, or if we'll get more. But I'd read the author again, just for the clever murderers.

Thank you to Berkley Publishing for my gifted copy. All thoughts are my own.

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Thank you @berkleypub for the free book. My thoughts are my own.

Wow! This was my first Nordic Noir thriller and it will definitely not be my last!

A powerful executive, Eliel Zetterborg, is accompanied by his bodyguard to his luxurious Helsinki apartment. The bodyguard walks him to his door and checks the surrounding floors as Eliel enters his apartment, locks the the door, and turns on the alarm. Moments later Elias is murdered. How did the intruder get in and out?

This presents a puzzling case for the police. A photograph, a jigsaw puzzle, and a bloody knife are the only clues. For the first time, Yusuf, is assigned to lead an investigation, but without his former lead investigator, Jessica, Yusuf is struggling. Finally, he contacts Jessica, who has taken time off to investigate a coven, for assistance and she agrees to assist Yusuf.

With another murder, a mysterious patient, and numerous suspects lining up, Yusuf and Jessica continue to investigate. However, they are unaware of approaching danger.

MY THOUGHTS: The intricate storyline, layered characters, and dual timelines kept me turning the pages! This is book 3 in the series and I was able to read and enjoy it without having read books 1 & 2. I didn’t fully understand the backstory surrounding Jessica and the witches’ coven, but that did not impact my enjoyment of book 3 at all. I definitely plan to read more Nordic Noir!

Read this if you love trying to solve challenging mysteries as you read!

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Detective fiction can be hit or miss for me and sadly this one didn't connect as much as I wanted it to. I enjoyed but didn't love. Thank you Berkley.

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The Last Grudge, by author Max Seeck, is the third installment in the authors Jessica Niemi trilogy. Once again, this story takes place mostly around Helsinki, Finland in 2020, and you may encounter words that you don't quite understand. Powerful executive Eliel Zetterborg has been found murdered in his upscale Helsinki home. What at first seems like a straightforward case soon proves to be anything but when it becomes clear the murderer has other targets. The only clue the police have is a photo of Zetterborg with three men whose faces have all been scratched off.

A month ago, Detective Jessica Niemi, was assaulted and attacked by a group lead by Camilla Adlerkreutz, and badly injured to the point where her sanity is being tested on a daily basis by the appearance of her dead mother. She has taken some time off from her work with the Helsinki police to track down the coven that nearly killed her, and her partner, Yusuf and maybe think about what her future is going to look like. Jessica is haunted by her dark past from 20 years ago, and a coven of witches with horns intent on destroying her and she won't be safe until she is sure that Camilla and her group has been found and defeated.

Meanwhile, Detective Sergeant Yusuf Pepple is assigned as lead investigator into Eliel Zetterborg's murder. He’s slightly unsure of himself in a leadership role. Along the way, he learns things about himself as well as his co-workers Nina, Tanya, Rasmus, and Jami Harjula. The high-profile murder leads to another and the investigative team becomes concerned that the bodies are going to start stacking up, time is of the essence. As Yusuf delves into the case, he realizes he needs Jessica’s help. But Jessica finds herself in dire straits and needing rescuing.

But true to form, the clues aren't answering questions so much as adding questions to the investigation. As a key piece of the mystery is revealed by the author, you will need to pay attention to the characters that are mentioned, as well as a key character in the beginning, as well as the ending. Apparently, this is the final book in the series which is also called Ghosts of the Past. Even though the mystery is wrapped up, there are other items that are left open ended, and I'll leave that alone for fear of spoiling the end game.

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From my blog: Always With a Book

This is the third book in Max Seeck’s Jessica Niemi series and I am so glad it has finally been translated into English! I am such a fan of this series and sometimes having to wait for these books to be translated is just torture!!! This NordicNoir series is so good – dark and chilling, but so engaging!

As I have loved in the past with this series, I found this latest installment to be such a good balance of police procedural and crime fiction. The case is a multi-layered, complex case with expertly placed twists and turns. The short chapters, many with mini-cliffhangers, just beg you to keep reading. And of course, I cannot forget to mention how atmospheric and dark it was. This case was anything but a straightforward murder, which is what the team thought they had on their hands. The deeper they get into the case, the more they realize nothing is what it seems.

What I found quite interesting, however, is that Detective Jessica Niemi is on leave at the beginning of the book and so when the team gets a new case, it is up to her partner Yusef to take control. While I did know this was going to happen based on the synopsis, I have to say, I missed Jessica being so front and center in the book. I’ve really come to like her character, but on the other hand, this did allow for more character development on Yusef.

That’s not to say that Jessica wasn’t involved at all in the book because of course she was. Her thread involves what has been going on with her since the first book, so if you haven’t read the previous books, you might not fully appreciate this storyline as much as those who have. Jessica is one of my favorite characters. She is flawed and deeply haunted by her past and it all comes to a head in this book.

I am such a fan of this series and am so glad to know that there is going to be another book in this series. Of course the question is, when will it be translated into English and available here in the states?

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Brilliantly done!
Seeck has such an amazing way with words. He winds you through intricate paths in such a way you don’t even know where you’re going or where you’re going to end up. But you trust his processes while he’s delivering this brilliant and intricately detailed police procedural.

It seems with every page there are subtle threads that you have to follow and he just drips clues and hints along the way. But yet he manages to still surprise you with unsuspecting elements and twists.

What I love about this author is the way he details the strengths and weaknesses of the detectives along with the suspects. It makes for interesting and well-developed characters. We can empathize and feel for these humanized characters. You are invested and connected to the book while he continues to surprise us with unsuspecting elements along the way.

If you’re looking for an unusual, one-of-a-kind police procedural with amazing twists and turns, you have to check out this author and this brand new book, The Last Grudge. This series will definitely become a favorite!

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My first foray into the Nordic Noir sub-genre of Finnish noir, and it was fantastic.

A thriller with two unsolved murders, a hit man, a jacked bodyguard, weird neighbors, secret letters, a weirdly uber-rich policewoman, hallucinations, a missing bag, puzzles, not to mention a kidnapping? This book had it all.

This is the third book in the series, and while I think it would have made things slightly more clear when it came to the kidnapping storyline to have read the prior books, this one held its own without the backstory.

I thought the character development was spot on. Yusuf really comes a long way with his personal growth, despite getting disturbing news midway through the book. I loved watching him go from uncertain officer to solving the case, and loved seeing his relationship with his boss evolve as the case progressed too.

Because I didn’t have the backstory from the prior two books, the witch cult references and references to Jessica’s mom were a little confusing—but not to the detriment of the book as a whole.

Overall, a satisfying read. My first by this author, and I would read his future work!

Thanks to the author, NetGalley, and Berkley Publishing for a review copy!

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After the tumultuous, often horrifying events of the past few months, Detective Sergeant Jessica Niemi is glad to finally be at peace with her co-workers in the Helsinki Police Violent Crimes Unit, and especially with her demanding new boss, Superintendent Hellu Lappi. So it’s a surprise to everyone when she requests a two month leave of absence, claiming that she has personal issues to settle. Since she’s both legally and morally entitled to that time – especially as her arm is still in a sling after her takedown of a killer rendered her incapable of firing a gun for at least the next half year – they’ve had to allow it, though at least some of her teammates aren’t at all thrilled that she’s gone.

One of these is her partner, Detective Sergeant Yusuf Pepple. He’s very much used to being the Watson to her Holmes, so is unprepared to be made lead on a prominent case involving the murder of a famous and controversial industrialist. Eliel Zetterborg is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of his conglomerate, RealEst, by publicly taking the blame for the shuttering of an unprofitable factory that is the main source of livelihood for three thousand people. He’s about to retire, and wants the next CEO to take the reins with as unblemished a reputation as possible. But as he’s preparing at his apartment for a celebratory dinner, he’s stabbed to death by someone who’s managed to get past his expensive security systems.

It’s a bizarre case complicated by the discovery of jigsaw puzzle pieces heaped in the next room, a seeming clue to the murder. Yusuf is not ready for the media scrutiny attached to his first case as lead, and begs Jessica for advice. He’s not entirely surprised when her first words have more to do with handling their team than actually solving the mystery:

“You’re going to find out, for instance, that Jami Harjula is going to press your buttons for as long as the investigation continues. He’s really damn good at it, and maybe it’s unintentional, maybe not. Where Hellu’s going to make you feel small, guys like Harjula make a big production of themselves by saying obvious things out loud. It makes no difference if it’s relevant as long as they’re the first to say it.”

“Kind of like school. Easy points from the teacher.”

Jessica turns to him and laughs: “Yusuf, a grade-school classroom is a picnic compared to our conference room at HQ.”

Jessica has every faith in Yusuf’s ability to crack the case, but knows that handling the egos of their department calls for more finesse than most police detectives are capable of. As the murder investigation gets stranger and stranger however, she allows Yusuf to wheedle her into finally looking at the case files, in hopes her unconventional brain will see something that the rest of their team has missed.

Ordinarily, Jessica would love this kind of challenge, but the witch cult that has bedeviled her for so long is up to no good once more, implicating her in the kind of crime that could send her to prison for life. As if that isn’t bad enough, her ability to differentiate between reality and the horrific visions that occasionally assail her is growing weaker. Worse, she is growing increasingly reliant on these visions, primarily of her dead mother in varying states of decay, to bring her comfort as she investigates:

The bathtub is full. The water is no longer running from the tap.

<i>Come get in the water.</i>

Jessica turns around and lowers her hand into the bath. The water is crimson now.

She feels cold bones around her wrist. The white hand draws her tenderly, beckons for her to dip into the opaque water.

<i>I know something’s going on.</i>

But her mother doesn’t reply.

Jessica gingerly steps into the tub and lets herself sink in up to her neck. Black hair floats at her feet; it looks like a skim of seaweed on the water’s surface.

Bubbles rise from below.

At first, The Last Grudge feels like your standard Scandinavian police procedural, notable mostly for the unusual amount of horror blended into the proceedings. By the time the third act comes along though, you realize that everything that you assumed about this novel is wrong, as Max Seeck masterfully pulls off twist after twist to get to the bottom of both Zetterborg’s murder and the crime from decades past that first provided the impetus for revenge. This book also draws an important chapter of Jessica’s life to a close, even as it signals possible new directions for her and for Yusuf. Translated from the original Finnish by Kristian London, this is one of the finest examples of the Scandinoir genre today, exploding reader expectations to cunningly construct its series of nested and utterly absorbing puzzles.

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