Saturday, December 19, 2009

"In any man who dies, there dies with him, his first snow and kiss and fight." Yevtushenko

This dark novel has Finnish Inspector Vaara called by Sgt. Valtteri, to inform him that black actress Suffia Elmi's body has been found murdered. There is evidence that it is a hate crime.

Vaara narrates the story in the hardboiled tradition of Hammett and Chandler. He is analytical and unemotional when dealing with these brutal crimes. In this case, he describes the quiet racism of the Hullu Poro area in Finland with the nights so cold that he must remove the battery of his Saab and bring it into his home to be sure the car will start in the morning.

We find that the room where Suffia had been staying has been paid for by Seppho Niemi and a complication arises since Vaara's ex wife Heli, left him for Seppho thirteen years ago.

This is an intense and deeply interesting novel about a part of the world so different from what we are accustomed to. With the story being told at Christmas time, the frigid weather is as much a character as any of the two legged characters. It is the time of darkness that adds to the depression of many people leading to alcoholism in many instances. In addition, when viewing the community's struggle in the winter, it is compelling to view what is necessary for some people to survive while others succumb.

A well written novel with an original plot. Inspector Vaara is an appealing character with his love for his current wife and dedication to his job while overcoming a family tragedy when just a young boy.

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