Hella Mauzer was the first ever woman Inspector in the Helsinki Homicide Unit. But her superiors deemed her too `emotional' for the job and had her reassigned. Now, two years later, she is working in Lapland for the Ivalo police department under Chief Inspector Jarvi, a man more interested in criminal statistics and his social life than police work.
They receive a letter from Irja Waltari, a priest's wife from the village of Kaarmela on the Soviet border, informing them of the disappearance of Erno Jokinen, a local. Hella jumps at the chance to investigate. Jarvi does not think that a crime is involved.
After all, people disappear all the time in the snows of Finland. When she arrives, Hella stays the village priest and his wife, who have taken in Erno's grandson who refuses to tell anyone his grandfather's secret. A body is then discovered in the forest and she realizes that she was right; a crime has been committed.
A murder. But what Hella doesn't know, is that the small village of Kaarmela is harbouring another crime, a crime so evil, it is beyond anything any of them could have ever imagined.