Thursday, September 01, 2011

New Finnish crime literature: Bagge, Rönkä, Kilpi

I was down with flu for almost two weeks. I'm still a bit ill, but I'm so behind my work I'll have to start doing something. The architecture book I've been writing for about two years (or at least seems like that already!) is seriously late from all the deadlines and I'm hating it big time.

Okay, I wasn't going to talk about that. I was going to mention three new Finnish crime novels I read while I was sick. One of the books was work-related as I wrote a review of it for a newspaper. 

The best of the three was my friend Tapani Bagge's Kasvot katuojassa (Face in the Gutter, out from CrimeTime), a novel of linked short stories and novellas. Fast-moving, touching at best, always on the side of the losers, at times pretty violent and often funny. Very fast read even though I wasn't quite sure why it had to be done as a novel and not as a collection of short stories. The story goes back and forth in time unnecessarily. (The cover for Tapani's book is done by Lasse Rantanen.)

Matti Rönkä's Väärän maan vainaja (Dead in a Wrong Country, Gummerus) is the new entry in Rönkä's series about Viktor Kärppä, the Russian ex-soldier working as a building contractor in Finland and helping out other Russians, dealing even a bit for the Russian mob. Mediumboiled, always on the side of the losers, usually well written, good descriptions and snapshots of the Russian way of life, but still a bit lukewarm. 

Marko Kilpi is one of the most revered crime writers working now in Finland. He was even nominated for the  prestigious Finlandia literature prize. I can't begin to understand why: his first novel Jäätyneitä ruusuja (Frozen Roses, 2007, reprinted now by his new publisher) is a clumsy and over-written piece of pretentious stuff trying to act as high literature. People say Kilpi has improved as a writer, I seriously hope this is the case. 

No comments: