The exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto









The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto

Finnish fiction

Original title – Tumma

Translator – David Hackston

Source – review copy

When I went to the London book fair earlier this year one of the people I finally got to meet after many years of chat on twitter was Karen who runs Orenda books a publisher of mainly crime fiction and a number of them in translation.So this Finnish novel is also one for Woman in translation month. This is the second book by Kati Hiekkapelto the Finnish writer lives on an island and is also a singer in a Punk band and  I have reviewed the first was defenseless this book also features the same detective but this time we follow Anne Fekete back home to the Balkan village of her birth. S

Just then Anne felt a violent shove at her back. She was buffeted against the table – so hard that Tibor’s wine glass toppled over.Golden yellow Furmint trickled over the edge of the table on to the ground and splashed on Anna’s trousers. Tobor leapt to his feer and shouted something, and it was then that Anna noticed her handbag had disappeared from the chair next to her.

“My handbag” she shouted. “Someone’s taken my handbag”

Tibor and Erno dashed into the crowd of people

Drink with people that knew her dad, he bag is taken by a thief .

Anne is back with her family in the Balkans on holiday when her bag get stolen one day. But when the thief is found dead by the river. Her passport and credit card had gone so when the local police take the death of the man who is a Romany, Anne natural instincts take over when the robbery happened she happened to see a young girl with the now dead man. But as she starts to investigate the crime, she is drawn into a bigger picture of refugees and how the Romani community is treated with in Serbia. Also into past crimes that someone wants to keep from Anne and also maybe involves Anne’s own family her own father was a local policeman. This book shows the growing intolerance to refugees and other ethnic groups that do not just fit in with the locals as the past and present collide and Anne finds more out about herself and her family.

“Wouldn’t it make sense to be sure this is the same man who stole my handbag? I think I’m the only reliable witness. Admittedly, I only saw him from behind. But I noted his size and what clothes he was wearing.

“He was found lying next to your bag” said the chief of police

“And if h’d been found next to a boat, would that automatically make him a fisherman? Or if he was near a church would you assume he was a priest ? or behind a hospital…”

Anne gets the push off by the police that makes her want to dig deeper into the crime .

This works well as it can be read as a standalone read, the problem with crime series novels is sometimes you need to read them in the series but with these books, I find you don’t .But what we do learn her is more of the mysterious Anne Fekete past, how a girl from the Balkans ended up as a Finnish police detective. Can Nordic noir work with out the ice and snow and dark night yes? This book is a multi layered book of murder, family, refugees, and secrets.  But this is more than a crime novel it is a look at modern society in Europe from the Balkans to Finland we could easily say the rise of hate of other is growing and a death like this has probably been overlooked in every country by the local police

The defenceless by Kati Hiekkapelto

Defenceless B- format front

The Defenceless by Kati Hiekkapelto

Finnish crime novel

original title – Suojattomat

Translator – David Hackson

Source – review copy


I come only with my punishment
There comes only my conviction
is my fate Running
In order to deceive the law
Lost in the heart
of the Great Babylon
They call me the Clandestine *
’cause I do not carry any identity papers

To a northern city
i went for work
I left my life behind
Between Ceuta and Gibraltar
I’m a just a rake on the sea
A ghost in the city
My life is prohibited

I choose the English translation of the Lyrics to Clandstine by Manu Chao a song about being an immigrant.

This is the first of three books from a new publisher Orenda books , which is run by Karen who used work for Arcadia books who published kati’s first book in English the Hummingbird .Kati Hiekkapelto is a prize winning finnish writer, she is also punk singer, performance artist and a special needs teacher (earns my respect as someone whoi supports people with learning disablities ,I know how hard it is to be a teacher ).She also lives on an isolated island in the very north of Finland .She also which is maybe the seed for this book taught Hungarians in the region of Serbia that has a large Hungarian population .This book won the 2014 best Finnish crime novel .

Sammy had arrived in Finland in the same manner and using the same route as the heroin that he knew so well, smuggled in to feed the hungry veins of Western Europeans: hidden in a truck belching thick exhaust fumes and driven across the endless steppes of Russia, illegally

The heroin continued on its way ; Sammy had stayed put

The opening lines and someone  is just  like drugs just a thing to be moved alive or dead they don’t mind these gangs.

Its been a while since I covered a number of  translated crime novel on this blog so to get sent three of what is the most popular genre for books in translation is a refresher for me of the genre so the first stop in the trio of Orenda books is Finland and the second book in the Anna Fekete series . The book starts when a body is found dead in the middle of the road .He may have been killed by a Hungarian Au-pair this is the case Anna Fekete is given  this case rings with her own past .Meanwhile her police partner Esko  is stuck in a case of trying to track a gang that are bring illegal immigrants to the Finland. As the two police officers follow each of the case like a candle burning a both ends a discovery brings the two case to an explosive end .Add to that a biker gangs one native Finns the other immigrants.

Anna sighed. She felt sorry for Gabriella: she would probably receive a minor punishment, but whatever it was the sentence would be a blow. It would be a nasty blot on her record. Would she ever get a job again ? At same time Anna felt a foul sense of satisfaction . Not exactly Shadenfreude, but something similar. What is about that girl that bothered me, she wondered. Why do I think this somehow serves her right?

The au pair gets off but is still involved as the case takes a twist .

I have read a number of Nordic crime novels during the time of this blog, For me The defenceless is up among the best. Anna Fekete leaps of the page, in this up to date novel .How often have we turn the TV on the last few years and seen stories about Immigrants and illegal gangs that bring them into countries what hiekapelto has done is taken that and used a crime novel to dissect the story from both ends the people who arrive in the country and the dreadful gangs that bring these people in dangerous circumstances. Kati has brought these threads together in what is a great Nordic crime novel with a slice of social conscience. I will be back with the other books from Orenda books .

Have you read any crime novel that tackle topical topics in their novels ?

The murder of Halland by Pia Juul

Murder of Halland

The murder of Halland by Pia Juul

Danish Fiction

Orginal title Mordet pa Halland

Translator Martin Aitken

Pia Juul is a Danish poet ,playwright and novelist ,she also translates books from English into Danish .She joined the Danish academy in 2006 and won a big poetry prize in 2011 for her collection radio theatre.This book won Danish banks literature prize a big prize in Denmark .

As I stood under the shower ,I suddenly realized that I had seen his coat and briefcase in the hall .He hadn’t left the house at all .Turning off the water .I called out to him nothing .The silence made me anxious .

Bess finds something isn’t right the morning after Halland is murdered .

The murder of Halland is a crime novel, but it is not the normal detective novel you may expect with the murder and detectives at the centre not in this book it is told from the point of view of Bess she is the wife of Halland in the title of the book is her husband who has been found murdered . The book follows what happens after that event .His body was discovered in the main square of the small town they live in . So Bess has to try to cope with his death and how it happened this make her to start to see those around here in a completely new light .Bess is a writer by trade so she starts to work out what happened between her and Halland and dealing with her own grief ,we start to see that every thing in their marriage isn’t as clear as it was first seems and many things had been Kept from Bess in the past .A refreshing change and twist on the normal crime novel

When’s the funeral ?

“Funeral ?” the concept seemed beyond me .

“Won’t there be one ?”

I felt like saying , ” how should I know ?” stupid but true .I supposed there would ne a funeral .But what was I meant to do ? how did one go about getting people buried ?

Bess struggles to cope at first .

Well the second in peirene’s year of small epics books and the first crime novel well that said ,it isn’t a crime novel in the true sense of the word .In fact more some one trying to fathom out what lead to the crime . A sort of paint by numbers to fill in the last bit that will be who killed Halland ,but as Bess goes along filling in the gaps she uncovers much more than a murder .The one book I’d compared it too after I read it was a south american novel by Horacio Castellanos Moya and his novel The she devil in the mirror ,in which a friend comes to find out what happened after the murder to find out what happened ,that story also had secrets in the background like this book did .I had found this one of the cleverest crime novels I ve read because you don’t have an idea who killed Halland and in a way the discovery of the murderer plays second place to Bess discovering what her life really was and how she has been hidden away from truths .Another book mention on the cover is Umberto Eco’s “The name of the rose “on the cover ,I can see the comparison with this book and Eco’s crime based books where the discovering of what went on takes a whole new angle and leads to wider discoveries usually .Well as I said with the first in tis series yesterday another gem from Meike and after 300 plus books I finally read a book from Denmark .

Have you read this one ?

What type of crime fiction do you like ?

Raid and the Blackest sheep by Harri Nykanen

Raid and the blackest sheep by Harri Nykanen

Finnish crime fiction

Translator – Peter Ylitalo Leppa

When I was contact by Diane a Us based pr about this publisher I was very happy I ve read a number of the books you’d call nordic noir .But among them had never read any from Finland and with the other Finnish novels I d read I was sure the crime fiction from there would be very different so I had two from Ice cold crime arrive this the first I read is by Harri Nykanen ,he used work as a crime reporter in Helsinki ,he describe his books as viewing the underworld through the eyes and rules of the criminals .This is the fourth book in the raid series after the first three were written there was a very succesful tv series made in Finland that at the height of the show it was watched by twenty percent of the population .I found a trailer but its in finnish but from watching it you get the feel of the series .

So to the book Raid ,I don’t like joining books in the middle of series but it wasn’t til I started to write-up this review I found out it was the fourth book in the series .So it stood up well by itself ,Raid is a hitman but he is a quiet character in the book ,I was remind a bit of the saint by Leslie Charteris ,a bad guy but with a moral code as that is what Raid seems to have .The story is a road movie in a book .Raid has been hired by Nygren a large figure in the criminal underworld to drive him around the north of Finland as Nygren is facing a race against the clock to sort some untie threads in his life .We start at a church were we have to deal with a crooked preacher ,on the way Nygren meet friends and enemies as he tries to put right what he once did wrong (sorry paraphrased  that line just from quantum leap ) .There is a second storyline that is a Detective lieutenant Jansson this is a 50 year rotund balding with his marriages on the rocks ,he has had a run in or two over the years with Raid and wants to pin something on him this time  .So we see the two  storylines  the police and criminals getting close as Jansson follows Raids path via local police reports of people Nygren has dealt with in the past  .

Nygren was approaching sixty .His face was lean and furrowed with an inch long scar at the left corner of his mouth ,With his blond hair combed straight back to the nape of his neck,Nrygen looked almost boyish .The expensive watch on his wrist topped of his stylish attire .

Nygren as the book open sleeping in the back of the car with raid.

What I enjoyed about this book is the feel of it gritty ,a bit more masculine than other nordic crime books I ve read and also the way Nygren had flipped  the storyline round .So the main drive of the book is the viewpoint of the criminals as they head round north Finland sorting things out .Raid is a character I could read again and again ,I can see why he has become a real star in Finland he is a bad guy you like ,ok he kills people but only the  right people the truly  bad people ,he is a quiet guy but one that is loyal to whoever is paying him in this case Nygren as he need Raid to make sure he gets all he needs to get done in the race against time .I said he remind me of the saint I meant the saint is a character that walk line of morals  was he good or bad he helped people I also felt raid had the same air of mysery simon templar had .My one big qualm with the book is it cover I find rather non de script and   it does this wonderful book no real favours .So if you like to read a criminal viewpoint on nordic crime with a dose of action and drama this is the book for you .

Have you read any Finnish crime novels ?

Professor Andersen’s night by Dag Solstad

Professor Andersen’s night by Dag Solstad

Norwegian fiction

translator – Agnes Scott Langeland

Dag Solstad is a Norwegian writer he has published over thirty books in Norway ,from novel ,short stories and plays  .His debut short story collection spiral came out in 1965.  he has won a number of prizes including the prestigious Nordic council literature prize .he is also known for writing books round every world cup he has written them on the last five world cups .In his early days he was a Maoist communist  this was reflected in his early fiction his more recent books have all been more to do with existentialism and philosophy ,that he has written in recent years  .This is his third book to be translated to English the previous two have both made the IFFP long lists in 2009 and 2007 .Although this is translated by a different translator Agnes Scott Langeland  than the earlier two .

Professor Anderson night is a short novella about an academic  in his fifties ,who whilst putting his decorations for Christmas .When he looks  out of his window he sees a murder  by a young man on a women .Now when I saw that  on the fly-leaf  I like you all ,my mind jumped to the great Hitchcock film “rear window” in which James Stewart see one of his neighbours kill his wife ,well  that part is the same but this story goes off on a different  tangent Professor Andersen is a man in his fifties an academic ,he initially seems dazzled by the crime he is frozen about what to do and he doesn’t report it to the police.

“It is odd that I don’t call the police ” He tought it was still not too late .Even if they won’t believe me , claim that I am drunk or whatever they may say .

professor Andersen is in inactive after the murder he has seen .

so as the festive season happens we see the professor starting to unpick his and his friends lives apart as he wonders how they all got where they were .we  see him at dinner parties were the concerns are what wine is served with which meat  and if so is it the right wine,also the ebb and flow of academia as his friends are mostly academics like himself  .This book is an insight into men in the fifties the insecurities  ,lost dreams Professor Andersen is a lonely man who is how he caught the murder like James Stewart character in rear window a man driven to boredom and loneliness this made him want to glimpse into windows around him and see people living a normal life   . This book is a perfect piece of existentialism like Kierkegaard said” what am I to do ” this is what happens to the professor how did he not do nothing that is the main question in his head .

They had rakfisk as a starter and the main course was grouse .beer a chaser of Aquavit were served with the rakfisk ; a spanish red , a good Rioja with the grouse .

this made my mouth water and I learnt that Rakfisk is a fermented fish

But like all good questions ,it is brought into sharp  focus, when he is faced with the man he saw doing the murder in a sushi bar he happened to wander into due to boredom.They stirke up a conversation with this younger man ,maybe this is a another point from existentialism as Professor Andersen has this man’s freedom in his hand .

This book falls in the Nordic tradition of writers like Knut Hamsun and Jostein Gaarder in bring philosophy into literature .This book examines what a man is and does in later life and all that  in less than 200 pages punchy dryly funny .I found this book one of those you’ll tell people about when they ask for something short but meaningful .Also those interested in why we do what we do in life ? This is another of my shadow iffp reads

Have you read this did you like it ?

Until thy wrath be past by Åsa Larsson

Until thy wrath be past by Åsa Larsson

Åsa Larsson is a swedish crime writer ,she worked as a tax lawyer before becoming a full-time writer .This is her fourth book to be translated into english .Her grandfather was a famous Swedish skier and she has host radio shows in her native Sweden this book features Rebecka Martinsson as have some of her earlier books .She won the best Swedish crime book in 2004 for Blood spilled another from this series ,also the first book in the series Solstorm was made into a film in Sweden .

So Rebecka Martinsson is a Prosecutor in the far north of Sweden ,this job is a cross between our C.I.D and the crown prosecution service they direct the police how to investigate criminal cases deciding when arrests need to be made in the case her police officer is another women Anna-Maria Mella .They are investigating the murder of a young women called Wilma Peterson her body appeared in the river as the spring thaw began .Their investigation draws them to a plane that went missing in the 1940’s people working with the germans during the second world wae ,a pair of brothers that made a lot of  money at the time ,these brothers were very intimating to the locals and still via the sons have an influence in the area the crime happen ,a weird local that knows more than he is saying ,the attitude of the male colleagues towards them and also the friction in the own relationship all add to this book being a real page turner.Why were Wilma and her boyfriend where they were is there a missing crashed german plane from the war  all these are questions you find the answer to in the book .

On sunday someone phoned the police station in Kiruna to say that he had information about the two kids who had featured in the late night news bulletin the day before .He said his was Goran Sillfors .

“I don’t know if what I have to tell you is all that significant” ,he said , “But you said yourselves ,rather a call too many tan one too few ,so i thought..”

A lead on the case maybe ?

So what did I make of until thy wrath be past the title being a quote from the bible well ,I ve read other nordic crime books over the last few years and this one needs to sit near the top of the pile in the leads Rebecka and Anna Maria she has two different female characters one smart that has worked to be were she is ,the other has a family both have men in their lives ,she makes them leap of the page into flesh and blood .I also loved the way she brought the north of Sweden to life describing the scenery so beautifully .

Frozen puddles and frostbitten moss crackled beneath our feet alanen Vittangivaara loomed to our left


frost had nipped at every blade of grass,every twig ,making them brittle and crispy white .Sprays of lingonberry and stunted juniper bushes were a dull shade of wintry green .


She catches the interaction between characters so well the slight tension between the women .The way they can be dismissed by their male counter parts in the police .The fear the brothers cause then and now .The crime is realistic which is more than I can say of some of the other nordic crime novels I ve read .I enjoyed reading female leads that I could get on with as a male reader I sometimes struggle with female leads but these two were wonderful ,also as a coffee drinker I must note they like their lot of coffee . So better tha Harry hole for me ,yes she is the other Larsson but Rebecka is not another Lisbeth Salander she is a new face for Nordic crime .and this is part of a series but makes great reading by itself .

Have you read this or any in the series ?

What is your favourite Nordic crime novel ?

May 2022


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