The Last Grudge
reviewed by Pam Guynn
The Last Grudge by Max Seeck is a thrilling crime novel and police procedural set in and around Helsinki, Finland. This is the third book in the Detective Sergeant Jessica Niemi series. However, in this novel, Jessica is on a leave of absence from the Helsinki police department following an attack.
She wants to track down the coven that was featured in prior books, and is still experiencing nightmares and is haunted by sightings of her dead mother. Meanwhile, her partner Detective Sergeant Yusuf Pepple is assigned as lead investigator on a high profile murder. Wealthy and powerful executive Eliel Zetterborg has been found murdered in his home. What seems straightforward quickly becomes complex.
Both Jessica and Yusuf are likeable characters, but Jessica takes a back seat in this novel. Readers get glimpses of her personality, her nightmares, and her interactions with her colleagues. Meanwhile Seeck has created a wonderful personality in Yusuf. He’s slightly unsure of himself in a leadership role, but steps up to the challenge. Along the way, he learns things about himself as well as his co-workers.
This is a crime thriller with a layered plot about betrayal, murder, bullying, family, job losses, revenge, greed, and much more. The prologue is intriguing, but readers don’t get a feeling for how it fits into the story until the end of the book. Chapter one introduces readers to Eliel, and this is quickly followed by the introduction of the various police officers including Yusuf. The story mainly takes place in 2022. However, there are flashbacks to an incident in 1990.
Meanwhile, Jessica’s subplot is interspersed throughout the story line. Readers who have read the first two books in the series will engage with this thread more easily than those who are starting with this third novel. Jessica is haunted by her past, but readers only gradually learn what has happened to her. However, she does occasionally confer with Yusuf on his case.
This is largely a complex and polished police procedural. The scenes from 1990 and inside Eliel’s apartment were vivid. Despite this, I didn’t get a deep sense of the story being set in Finland. However, I loved the intensity and suspense, including a few tense action scenes. The author kept me guessing until nearly the end of the book.
Max Seeck’s characters were realistic and made the story dynamic. Overall, this twisty mystery kept me engaged. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Berkley Publishing Group and Max Seeck provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own. Publication date is currently set for February 07, 2023.