A lovely dose of Scandinavian crime fiction – set in Finland, this is the first book in Hiekkapelto’s Anna Fekete series.
From the back cover:
Anna Fekete, who fled the Yugoslavian wars as a child, has a past. Just beginning her career as a criminal investigator in a northern Finnish coastal town, she is thrust into a high-profile, seemingly unsolvable case that has riveted the nation. It doesn’t help that her middle-aged new partner, Esko, doesn’t bother hiding his racist prejudices, and Anna becomes the target of a systematic campaign to unsettle her.
A young woman has been killed on a running trail, and a pendant depicting an Aztec god has been found in her possession. Another murder soon follows. All signs point to a serial killer, but can Anna catch the Hummingbird before he – or she – strikes again? And at what personal cost?
Dark, gritty and filled with contemporary themes, this is a chilling, unforgettable book that you will find impossible to put down. Or forget.
This is one of those books that gets better as the story progresses, the pace is not particularly fast; we’re not given any massive clues regarding the case along the way, with several red herrings thown in, this case really does seem unsolvable. The pace picked up in the last third and I found this to be the most gripping part of the book, although after a slow build up, I do think things came to a head pretty quickly at the end.
More interesting than the case itself, for me, was the personalities of the detectives. They were all well-developed characters and I enjoyed getting to know their individual personalities, reading their interactions with each other and learning about their personal lives. I absolutely loved Anna’s backstory, fleeing to Finland from a war-torn Yugoslavia as a young girl, she has a complex backstory which we are given an insight into. Throughout this case, Anna has to deal with the comments and actions of her openly racist partner, Esko. I really like Anna but at times during the read I would get so frustrated with her, if I was the kind of person to shout at fictional characters, she would have gotten an earful from me about standing up for herself and not taking any of Esko’s rubbish. New to the job or not, somethings you just don’t tolerate, and urgh, Esko, what a
dick despicable man!
Alongside the main case, Anna is increasingly concerned about Bihar, a Kurdish refugee, whom she believes is at risk from her family of becoming a victim of an honour killing. The voice of Bihar is interspersed throughout the book as she tells her story in her own voice. These were my favourite parts of the book, this first-person account gives the book an additional chill factor and I too became increasing worried about Bihar. Without giving anything away, I really like the way this subplot concluded.
Overall, this is a good start to a crime series and I’m looking forward to reading book 2: The Defenceless. As always, credit to David Hackston for a wonderful job translating this book.