A small town. A frozen lake. Three missing women. One body.
When young London professional Alex Evans is informed that his sister’s body has been pulled from an icy lake in Northern Lapland, he assumes his irresponsible sister accidentally drowned. He travels to the wealthy winter resort where Vicky worked as a tour-guide and meets Agatha Koskinen, the detective in charge. Agatha is a no-nonsense single mother of three who already thinks there’s more to Vicky’s case than meets the eye.
As the two form an unlikely alliance, Alex also begins to suspect the small town where his sister lived and died is harbouring secrets. It’s not long before he learns that three other women have gone missing from the area in the past and that his sister may have left him a message.
On the surface, Koppe, Lapland is a winter wonderland. But in this remote, frozen place, death seems only ever a heartbeat away.
Hi and welcome to my review of The Last to Disappear!
A new Jo Spain novel is always cause for celebration, The Last to Disappear is no exception. This time Nordic lovers are in for a treat, as Jo Spain’s latest thriller takes its readers all the way to Lapland, which is just such a fantastic setting, and one I, as an avid Nordic Noir reader, am happy to say was depicted brilliantly by this Irish author.
The Last to Disappear alternates between 1998 and 2019. In 2019, the body of a young British tour guide has been found in a lake, and her older brother Alex heads up to Lapland to retrieve her body. Upon his arrival, however, he is told that his sister didn’t die in an accident, she was murdered. The 1998 thread explores what happened to the first of what would become three missing women in this little town in the middle of nowhere. Is the 2019 murder linked to the three vanished women? Were they killed as well, might Koppe have a yet undiscovered serial killer on its hands?
The Last to Disappear is very cleverly plotted. It burns rather slowly at first, but when you’ve finished it and look back, you’re able to recall all the little hints that seemed so innocuous when you were reading them before. I figured out one aspect from the 1998 mystery, one that was very clear to me from the start, but even so, when it came to actually determining what happened to this twenty-something woman, I changed my mind half a dozen times. And I never came close to figuring out what happened in 2019.
Both the police procedural aspect and the chief of police herself are a breath of fresh air. She’s a single woman trying to solve three cold cases and a live murder case while also taking care of three kids and trying to shield them from a quite dangerous and unstable person from their pasts. I loved her caring and respectful nature, her attitude towards Alex, her determination to get to the bottom of things. I also loved that despite this being a police investigation, it’s so much more informal than the standard British or American police procedural.
The Last to Disappear does not stick to the beaten paths and feels all the more original for it but is nevertheless utterly believable. It is an excellent mix of mystery, thriller and police procedural in a setting of icy perfection. I had a great time with it and I’d happily recommend it to any and all thriller fans.
The Last to Disappear is out today, get it while it’s hot!
Massive thanks to Quercus Books and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.