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Saturday 25 September 2021

‘Cold Courage’ by Pekka Hiltunen


Published by  Hesperus Press,
21 June 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-84391-479-2 

This novel has received numerous accolades and prizes and it's easy to see why.  Quite apart from the elaborate plotting, the Finnish author's knowledge of London and its ways is absolutely impeccable, as indeed is the quality of the writing, both  factors I find reassuring, especially in a foreign author.

The plot concerns a Finnish graphic designer, Lia, working for a London magazine.  From the top of a bus, she sees a car slewed across a city pavement containing what she discovers later is the body of a Latvian prostitute who has been run over several times by a steamroller, then shovelled into the boot of a stolen car.  At first intrigued by this gruesome murder, she gradually becomes obsessed by it, wondering why no-one seems to be doing much to find out who is responsible.

At a party, she meets another Finnish girl – Mari – and they strike up a close friendship.  The enigmatic Mari is possessed of seemingly limitless funds and has set up a group called The Studio, which works to change things that Mari considers are wrong.  In this book, she is trying to prevent the election of a right-wing leader who wants power for personal gain alone.  His racist and sexist views are totally unacceptable, as is the domestic abuse he hands out to the women closest to him, and Mari plans to thwart his ambitions by exposing his murky private life.  In return for Lia's cooperation, she agrees to help her find out who murdered the Latvian woman, and free other prostitutes who have been trafficked from eastern Europe

So both ends are achieved, though sometimes belief is stretched to breaking point.  We shall be reading more about Mari and The Studio, I feel, since this is the first book in a series.  Thoroughly recommended.
Reviewer: Susan Moody

Pekka Hiltunen is a Finnish author and journalist living in Helsinki. He works as a managing editor at Mondo magazine. His debut novel in 2011 immediately became one of the most acclaimed first novels in Finnish literature. The psychological thriller Cold Courage was nominated for the Helsingin Sanomat Prize for Best Debut of the Year, a rare feat for a thriller. It won three literary prizes in Finland, including the Clue Award for Best Detective Novel of the Year, and it has been nominated for the Scandinavian Glass Key Award 2013. Hiltunen also writes in other genres, and his books have been translated into six languages, including French and German. His forthcoming work BIG deals with the tricky problem of the worldwide obesity epidemic. Following a twenty-year career as a journalist in 2010 he received the Best Writing Editor Prize for his magazine articles. He specialises in extensive articles tackling social and political topics.


 Susan Moody was born in Oxford is the principal nom de plume of Susan Elizabeth Donaldson, née Horwood, a British novelist best known for her suspense novels. Susan Moody began writing crime novels with Penny Black, the first of the seven Penny Wanawake crime novels.  She has a second series of six books featuring bridge player Cassie Swan. In all, she has published 29 novels, most of them crime and suspense. Susan spent two years as a Creative Writing Tutor in Her Majesty's Prison, Bedford. She is a past Chairman of the Crime Writers' Association, serving in all as a CWA Committee member for seven years. She is a long-standing member of the prestigious Detection Club and served for three years as the President of the International Association of Crime Writers.  In 2016 Susan Moody began a new series featuring Alex Quick. 

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