23rd April 2017
Gallows Drop by Mari Hannah, crime thriller set in Northumberland (“a real hanging suspense”) ...
The Mine by Antti Tuomainen, thriller set in Finland.
Journalist Janne Vuori finds himself investigating the mine at Suomalahti, Northern Finland, initially credited with being innovative and environmentally friendly. Yet there has been an environmental disaster and gradually Janne connects a number of unexplained deaths linked to the company.
Back home, he is struggling with a failing relationship with Pauliina, with whom he has a daughter. Factor in his father Emil who pops up and accosts him in a supermarket after disappearing 30 years or so ago, and he is man in under pressure. Yet, he remains largely phlegmatic about the strands in his life that seem to be piling in but the insidious creep of stress becomes all too apparent – is he turning out like his father, can he competently tackle the invidious situation that is unravelling?
A disconnected voice punctuates the narrative detailing killings. Who can this be?
The sense of place is very strong, a wintery landscape that is like an enveloping sheath of snow, a veil over the places he visits, small places and into Helsinki. There is no lustre in the ambient setting, it is monochrome and dulling to the senses and just adds to the grind of Janne’s life.
The book glides towards the end, as though on ice as the momentum of tension comes to a natural end. This is a well thought through story and excellently written, undoubted credit goes to David Hackston, who translated the original.
As you read this book I challenge you not to silently mouth the innumerable vowels that appear in the Finish language, in an attempt at pronunciation… Töölö for example is quite a mouthful for an English reader. It is much like eating a doughnut and not licking your lips!
Tina for the TripFiction Team
A few words now from Antti, sharing what it is like to live in Finland, where the weather is harsh in the Winter, and can be beautiful in the Summer”
I’ve lived in Helsinki for 43 years out of my 45. (One year in the US, half a year in Berlin & Amsterdam) So, for me, this is a familiar place and it has naturally found its way into my books as well. I’ve published altogether six novels and, looking at them from the city’s point of view, in five of them Helsinki has been one of the main characters. I love this city. It is either a small big city or a very big small town, depending on the season – we have four very distinct season here -, the time of day, weather, my personal mood and where in the city I happen to be.
For anyone coming here for the first time, I would explain the basics: Helsinki is on the Baltic shore. The city is built on peninsulas, islands and shores; the sea is everywhere. Another thing you’ll notice (during summer months, of course) as the plane starts its descent is how green it is. Trees and parks are everywhere. Keskuspuisto (Central Park is a direct translation) is right in the middle of the city and, if you head north, you can follow it all the way out of the city. The downtown area is compact, a mix of old and new, pleasantly walkable, and, as you’ll quickly notice, quite low-built by international standards. This is due to building restrictions.
I walk through the center of town twice every day from home to my office/studio and back (from Ullanlinna to Hakaniemi) and I truly enjoy it: it’s mainly a beautiful city, the neighborhoods have their own distinct flavors, the city’s different with every season, the center is architecturally interesting enough and almost always busy and I have everything I need within easy reach.
For more books set in Finland, just click here.