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Friday, 3 November 2017

‘The Man Who Died’ by Antti Tuomainen

(Translated by David Hackston.)
Published by Orenda Books,
10 October 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-910663- 84-7 (PB)

The story opens with Jaakko Kaunismaa receiving his death sentence. His doctor informs him that he is not suffering from the after-effects of a virus but that he has been poisoned by a toxin. The poisoning has been going on for a considerable period of time and the damage is irreversible and fatal. It is not clear how long Jaakko has to live – days, weeks or months.

Three and a half years ago, when Jaakko and his wife, Taina, were both made redundant, they moved from Helsinki to the small Finnish town of Hamina and started up a new business, picking, drying and packaging the matusake, the pine mushrooms that grow in abundance in the forests around Hamina. The Japanese are particularly fond of these mushrooms and Jaakko has built up a good client list and is the head of a successful small business.

Jaakko is determined to discover who has murdered him. Pine mushrooms are not toxic, and Jaakko knows that they could not have caused his illness, but he believes that the mushrooms, or at least the mushroom business, may be the reason that he is dying. He suspects the motive for his murder is to dispose of him and gain control of his business, but he does not know who is to blame. Jaakko’s main suspects are his unfaithful wife and her young lover, but he also distrusts the owners of the new mushroom business that has just started in Hamina and is run by some very shady and ruthless characters.

Jaakko becomes obsessed with saving his business and discovering who has murdered him. His investigations lead him into some dangerous, indeed lethal, situations before he finally discovers the truth.

The Man Who Died is a beautifully written and skilfully translated book and the reader wishes Jaakko to discover who has poisoned him and save his business so that he can achieve some kind of peace in his final days. It is a black comedy with some points of extreme, graphic violence and a strong vein of very dark humour. The Man Who Died is a worthy and exciting addition to the Nordic noir tradition.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Finnish author Antti Tuomainen was born in Helsinki, Finland where he lives with his wife. He 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.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Her latest book The Fragility of Poppies was published 10 June 2016.
Read a review of Carol’s latest book
The Fragility of Poppies

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