Even more incredible was the notion that a detective could work undercover in a place like Palm Beach Finland. The very idea is utterly inconceivable.
Many things happened, had happened and would happen in the future, but that wasn’t one of them.
Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen (p 197), Orenda Books
In 2018 I decided to read more fiction from Iceland and Finland. I am doing pretty well with Icelandic authors but finding Finnish ones a bit harder to access. Antti Tuomainen however is doing well out of this challenge. I love his books and they seem to find their way to me easily. They even had a stack of old and new titles at the Edinburgh International Book festival this year which I could not resist.
Palm Beach Finland is Antti’s latest book to be published in English (translated by David Hackston) and was the best-selling Finnish crime novel in 2017 in his home country. Its dark, funny, weird and constantly made me shiver. The story is centered around a quiet beach town with a garish resort where customers and heat seem to be lacking but the lifeguards have to wear swimsuits anyway. The feel of the story struck me as a kind of Finnish Western due to the characters. We have an out-of-town baddie, a damsel, two goofballs, a law enforcer and an array of local characters. Things keep going wrong, the tale twists and turns unexpectedly and this is the beauty of Tuomainen’s writing. He has a unique way of seeing things and eloquently passes that on to his readers.
The book has an exploding sauna in it. How much more Finnish could you get? To attack one’s sauna apparently is deeply, deeply laden with meaning. Who knew? There is an undercurrent of love and also sex, but that may not appear when you expect it. Bruce Springsteen is featured, lust, guitars, an old house, a money hiding microwave, Miami Vice, so many details and unexpected things that all add to the story which is basically about greed. The big man’s greed for power, land and money. The small man’s greed for guitars, a ticket out-of-town, a nice car. Meanwhile Olivia Koski just wants to fix her indoor toilet, restore her house and make a home for herself. But someone was murdered in it. Why? Who? Go and find out!
This review is part of a blog tour, check the poster below for other reviews of the book. You can also hear Antti speak in a short film I made here and if you do a key word search for his name on the blog home page you will find more information on his other books available in English. Thanks for reading!