Light in a Dark House
Das Licht in einem dunklen Haus

jan costin wagner das licht in einem dunklen haus
Galiani Berlin
June 2011 / 352pp

The Goethe-Institut supported the English translation of this book.

Get information on the English version here (UK).


The Winter of the Lions, the third in Wagner’s crime series set in Finland and featuring Detective Kimmo Joentaa, was recently praised by the Financial Times for its ‘spare, stark outlining of motives and events’, and described as ‘snow-noir of the highest order’.

In Light in a Dark House a woman is found in a coma at the roadside on Joentaa’s patch, and dies later in hospital. Who was she, and how exactly does her murder link up with several killings around the small town of Karjasaari? Joentaa is working once again with Westerberg of the Helsinki police and his keen new sidekick Seppo. It all goes back to a gang rape witnessed in 1985 by a halfcomprehending twelve-year-old schoolboy, whose diary entries of the time are interleaved in the novel with the police investigations of 2010. Now the men and youths who took part in the rape are being picked off in turn by a ruthlessly determined killer. Meanwhile the new woman in Kimmo Joentaa’s life, the mysterious prostitute Larissa, has disappeared, keeping in touch only through occasional laconic email messages.

A satisfying page-turner full of suspense.

press quotes

‘Jan Costin Wagner’s new novel is amongst the best of the crime genre. You will not find a more sympathetic murderer, or a more melancholy policeman. The book is a brilliant study on love, grief and death.’– Spiegel Online

‘Jan Costin Wagner writes the best Scandinavian crime novels of the moment.’– Berliner Morgenpost

‘Magical. Better than Mankell.’– The Times

about the author

Jan Costin Wagner was born in 1972 and now lives as a freelance writer and musician near Frankfurt am Main and in Finland. His novels have been awarded numerous prizes, including the German Crime Fiction Prize and the Marlowe Prize, and have been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. They have been translated into fourteen languages. The novel Das Schweigen was filmed for the cinema in 2010.

Previous works include:
Im Winter der Löwen (The Winter of the Lions, 2009); Das Schweigen (Silence, 2007); Schattentag (2005); Eismond (Ice Moon, 2003); Nachtfahrt (2002)

rights information

Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch GmbH & Co. KG
Bahnhofsvorplatz 1
50667 Köln, Germany
Tel: +49 0221 376 85 22
Contact: Iris Brandt

Kiepenheuer & Witsch was founded in 1949 in Cologne by Gustav Kiepenheuer and Joseph Caspar Witsch. The press’s early authors included Joseph Roth, Heinrich Böll and Erich Maria Remarque. Today Kiepenheuer & Witsch continues to publish leading contemporary German, Austrian and Swiss writers, as well as international authors in translation. Its list includes among many others the book prizewinner Kathrin Schmidt, Frank Schätzing, Uwe Timm, David Foster Wallace and J.D. Salinger. Its non-fiction subjects cover sociology, psychology, history and biography. Kiepenheuer & Witsch is part of the Holtzbrinck Group.

translation assistance

The Goethe-Institut supported the English translation of this book.

Get information on the English version here (UK).

share this recommendation

Share this on twitter, facebook or via mail.

All recommendations from Autumn 2011