The Angels of Hammurabi

Reading material

Finnish edition
English sample & synopsis

Original title: Hammurabin enkelit

Published: 2016

Publisher: Tammi

Class/genre: Crime & Thriller

Pages: 416

Jo Nesbø meets Apocalypse Now in the Balkans: An action-packed page-turner about revenge, war, international crime – and love

Jare Westerlund, an employee of the Finnish Embassy in Zagreb goes missing. The local police has no leads, except for the anonymous threats Westerlund has received before his disappearance. Daniel Kuisma from the Finnish Defence Forces is sent to investigate, along with Annika Lehto from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The investigation gets unexpectedly complicated when the mysteries of the past start to unravel on the stony shores of the Adriatic Sea.

Kuisma knows Croatia like the back of his hand from his days as a peacekeeper during the Yugoslav Wars, and it seems he has been waging a war of his own ever since. What really happened twenty years ago?

In the same war fought the Italian Antonio Franzo, who dodges a murder attempt in Dubrovnik. Soon he finds out that also the other men who took part in a secret operation during the war are in danger, amongst them one Finn.

The ministry has insisted on sending Lehto, a relatively inexperienced young official, on the mission. Is there more than meets the eye in the woman who stops the show with her beauty?

It all seems to boil down to a group called The Angels of Hammurabi. Who are they – and who is killing them off, one by one?

14,000 copies sold in Finland (as at September 2017)

Rights sold: 
FINLAND, Tammi (Original publisher)
ESTONIA, Pegasus
GERMANY, Blanvalet
ICELAND, Forlagid

“The quest for revenge and the tendency to fall in to the vicious circle that eternally feeds it are the central themes in this handsome thriller. With a protagonist who is the lesser of any two evils, Max Seeck’s debut thriller has the makings of a success.” – Jussi Aurén, Aamulehti newspaper, Finland

“Another star has been added to the firmament of thriller writers. The opening pages of Max Seeck’s hot-off-the-press debut, The Angels of Hammurabi, are chilling and the flowing text swiftly hooks the reader.” Iltalehti newspaper, Finland

“The book is exceptionally well written.” Eija Huusari, Eeva magazine, Finland

“A deeply atmospheric debut.”  Radio Helsinki

“It’s wonderful that we have these kind of thriller authors like Max Seeck coming from Finland. The Angels of Hammurabi is Seeck’s debut novel and he’s going all-in. […] I could have easily believed it’s written by any of the international superstar crime authors. I hope that Seeck’s novel will be travelling around the world, for this kind of Finnish book I would be glad to showcase abroad.”
Lukutoukan kulttuuriblogi, Finland

“Sometimes, though very rarely, while reading an unpublished manuscript, you get a feeling of astonishment and disbelief: this is too good to be true, this has to be a skillful modification of something already published. But you just cannot put your finger on exactly which books and authors.

This is what happened to me when I started reading The Angels of Hammurabi, a thriller by Max Seeck, an unsolicited manuscript sent to Tammi Publishers by email this January. And yes, even the name Max Seeck is uncommon in Finnish! It has to be a pen name. Am I being played here?

But the further I went into the manuscript, this feeling was completely replaced by another notion. No, this is too skillful. Too well written. Too original. Very aware of the thriller and crime fiction tradition, yes, but has effectively went a long way into its own powerful direction.

It turned out that Max Seeck was an actual person, a young brand agency executive living in Helsinki. A big fan of Jo Nesbø. But The Angels of Hammurabi is no piece of fan fiction. Nor it is an amalgam of influences that you can trace. It is a truly original, very fast paced story of an army intelligence officer named Daniel Kuisma sent to help Croatian police with a missing person case. The person in question is a Finnish embassy employee. Kuisma is accompanied by a determined young foreign office analyst Ms Annika Lehto.

We learn contradictory details of the disappearance which gradually gets linked and evolves into a bigger chain of mysterious and shocking events, both contemporary and related to the violent civil war in the 1990´s Balkans. And not all people and their motives are what they seem.

My years in publishing have made me cautious of the saying “I could not put it down”. I wish I could have been able to say it more often. When it is true, you definitely want to share it with other people. Because you are certain they will enjoy it too.”

– Hannu Harju, Publishing Manager of Finnish fiction, Tammi Publishers

“A deeply atmospheric debut.” – Radio Helsinki

Max Seeck

Author photo Max Seeck b&w

Max Seeck, the most anticipated newcomer of the literary season, has received great reviews for his debut thriller The Angels of Hammurabi.

“Another star has been added to the firmament of thriller writers. The opening pages of Max Seeck’s hot-off-the-press debut, The Angels of Hammurabi, are chilling and the flowing text hooks the reader swiftly,” stated Iltalehti newspaper, and Helsingin Sanomat newspaper called it a promising debut: ”Seeck’s next novel will be worth the wait.”

The German rights to The Angels of Hammurabi were recently sold at auction to Blanvalet. Quoting Beatrice Lampe, editor at Blanvalet, “Max Seeck’s action thriller develops at a breakneck speed – as mesmerizing to read as it would be to watch from a cinema seat.”

See also the UK-based Euro But Not Trash blog’s book review and Q&A with Max here.

Max Seeck has a background in sales and marketing, and has lately been able to dedicate his time to his lifelong love of writing. His interests include well-conducted research, reading Nordic Noir and listening to movie soundtracks as he writes.


Seeck Mephisto Touch FI cover

Max Seeck

The Mephisto Touch

2017, Crime & Thriller

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