Finnish author Antti Tuomainen has had 3 brilliant books published (in English) in three consecutive years. In my eyes this puts him up there as an annual event in my diary like watching The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and The Big Lebowsky. I look forward to reading his work the same way I look forward to watching all of those movies. But what else does that mean? Firstly it means I know I am going to enjoy the experience. There will be great characters. The story will draw me in. I know I am going to chuckle at some point. I know the story will stay with me after I have finished reading and when I remember it I will smile. Antti’s books are not a series in the same way some of those films are, they are standalones, but the three recent ones all have a spark in them which is undeniably Antti and which is carried through all the novels.
In Little Siberia we are introduced to Joel and his life in the remote Finnish village of Hurmevaara. Joel has some problems in his life. Some of his problems stem from a meteorite which landed near the village and is being kept in the local museum until it can be collected by the authorities. Another problem is one of a more personal nature involving his wife her recent pregnancy news. To make matters more interesting Joel is the village pastor and all kinds of people come to him to talk over their thoughts and actions. Add into the mix the wife, a group of controlling older local men, an alcoholic racing car driver, an alluring bar tender, a russian gangster and a very intriguing perfume and you are off of the Litte Siberia adventure.
The humour, as in some of Antti’s other books is a dark humour. It appeals to me immensely. Including a pastor in the story is a twist of genius as this role opens up all kinds of conversations and presumptions with people. As in the last two books The Man Who Died and Palm Beach Finland there is an element of pace with the story unfolding over quite a short time frame. In Little Siberia the main character Joel is in a bit of a panic as he tries to solve things but at the same time he has this air of a calm and acceptance about him. A sense that the universe will provide the answers to the mystery in its own weird and wonderful way and in its own time just as long as Joel just keeps on digging. This is all in contrast to racing driver, Tarvainen, who bulldozes through the story like a rodeo bull. He is a man on a mission, driven by a lost dream in an alcoholic stupor, living everyday as if it is his last. It is a great contrast. All in all this thriller could make your weekend. Fasten your seatbelt and trust no one!
This book review is part of a blog tour. You can check out other reviews of Little Siberia by looking at the blogs mentioned on the poster above. Little Siberia is published by Orenda books and was translated from Finnish (brilliantly) by David Hackston.
As well as the three most recent books mentioned above Antti has some other novels in English: The Healer, Dark As My Heart and The Mine. These are darker, more disturbing books which I also enjoyed but in a totally different way. One quality which goes through all his work is that they are very filmic. All the books are are well written and translated and keep me reading due to their strong storylines. So you have a choice with this author’s work which is a great thing. Long may Antti provide a rich variety of stories for us to read!
PS Antti tells me that another book will be pubished in English at the end of 2020 but it has no title yet. In the meantime you can read a short piece Antti wrote specifically for this blog here.