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Cass Neary exists on the edge of society. She received critical acclaim for her book of photography Dead Girls early on in life but after splitting with her muse and lover Quinn O’Boyle, she has been drifting. She’s now into early middle age and is a borderline alcoholic. Avoiding contact with others, perhaps as a result of a rape on her 23rd birthday, her closest relationship is probably with her drug dealer. Nevertheless some kudos remains thanks to Dead Girls and she’s contacted by a wealthy collector, who wants her to travel to Helsinki and authenticate photographs of murder victims. They are the work of Finnish fashion photographer Ilkka Kaltunnen who made his name capturing the violent Nordic Black Metal scene. At the same time Cass receives a letter, postmarked Reykjavik, containing a picture of Quinn in his youth. Cass decides to kill two birds with one stone and pick up some easy money for the job, then search for her ex-flame. In Helskinki she discovers that the murder victims were posed to represent the folkloric Jolasveinar figures, such as The Peeper and Meat Hook. Hand creates a sense of foreboding which raises the tension towards the climax. When it arrives, it almost moves the book into horror territory such is its power.

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