Sex, lies and ill-fitting swimwear … Sun Protection Factor 100
Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village – the ‘hottest beach in Finland’. The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary.
With a nod to Fargo, and dark noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives – chasing their fantasies regardless of reason.
Antii Tuomainen’s previous novel The Man Who Died was on my list of Outstanding reads 2017 and I can see this one being on a similar list this year.
Don’t ask me to remember all the names of the cast of calamitous characters in this book, I have problems remembering English sounding names. At least two of the characters were using assumed names, so double the trouble – literally. One was an undercover cop investigating a murder at the resort village and the other the sociopathic brother of the victim bent on revenge.
It all started when Leivo the unscrupulous fantasist owner of a Finnish seaside resort village renamed and rebranded Palm Beach Finland, wishes to expand and own the neighbouring land to incorporate and use as a marina for the resort. He uses a hapless pair of his employees, Chico and Robin, bungling local crooks to carry out a war of attrition by intimidation towards the existing owner, Olivia, also an employee at the complex. The two would be villains embark on a plan of action that ends up with them accidentally murdering someone, an intruder at the said property but not before he attacks them both and injures them with an electric whisk! Yes, you read that correctly. This happens very early in the book so I’m not revealing any spoilers but it is the start of a whole series of events that lead to other catastrophes of the criminal variety and the often farcical consequences.
Leivo hopes to attract international clientele to holiday in the village, regardless of the fact that the weather, even in Summer in Finland, is often inclement and downright freezing cold at times. I could picture the resort in my mind, complete with 1950’s pastel shaded huts and buildings and a side order of plastic flamingo.
The author is an absolute master in the art of dark humour with a twist of the surreal. I would have voted The Man Who Died as the funniest crime fiction novel I’ve ever read and this one is a strong contender for that title. The characters were all richly drawn and there wasn’t one character who was superfluous to the plot. With a nod to the expert translation from David Hackston.
I absolutely loved it. An excellent read and a little gem that brightened up the start of my autumn reading.
Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b. 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labelled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable’. Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen ‘The King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula. The Man Who Died brought him to his literary best.
Follow Antti on Twitter @antti_tuomainen, on Facebook facebook.com/AnttiTuomainen and on his website: www.antituomainen.com
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