Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village—the “hottest beach in Finland.” The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary. With a nod to Fargo, and dark noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams, and people struggling at turning points in their lives—chasing their fantasies regardless of reason.
I got this book at the Orenda Roadshow in Southall, Nottinghamshire, in late February. Just before Lockdown started. I met Antti and a few other Orenda authors and got the book signed. I was quite pleased with the trip away even if the place I stayed wasn’t very good. The library at Southwell was, and the bookshop that supplied the books was run by some lovely ladies. Karen, who runs Orenda, and Anne, who runs Random Things blog tours was there, so I actually knew a couple of people, sort of.
Olivia Koski has inherited a rather run down house on the coast. After a couple of failed relationships, she’s had enough, moved home and just wants to renovate her family home.
Jormo Leivo has a dream – Palm Beach, without the irritating heat! But to complete his dream he needs Olivia’s land, and for the boat club to disappear. And Olivia won’t sell. So he decides to scare her away, with the help of failed musician ‘Chico’ and cook Robin.
That’s about the point when it all goes wrong. Because the lads ain’t the sharpest tools in the shed and accidentally kill a burglar when they go to vandalise Olivia’s house (this is not a spoiler, the author tells us right at the beginning that this is the case).
Jan Nyman, undercover police officer, is sent to Palm Beach, Finland, to investigate after the local and regional police fail to find anything. They didn’t bother asking if anyone was threatening Olivia. Jan’s boss is convinced she’s behind it all, and Jan isn’t so sure. Until he meets her.
The dead burglar’s adopted brother comes looking for answers too, flashes cash and threatens a few people.
What follows is a comedy of errors, dark comedy.
The stupidity of it all! Robin and Chico should have just gone to the police in the first place, said they say something suspicious while out for a walk, couldn’t get a signal to call the police or Olivia so went to investigate/scare off potential criminals and while wrestling with the burglar they accidentally killed him. It would have saved everyone a lot of trouble and they’d probably be considered minor heroes.
But Jan and Olivia wouldn’t have met, and it wouldn’t have been a very long book, so it’s probably best that they didn’t. I liked the way their relationship developed and the realisations they make. All the characters, except Leivo, develop in some way, making sense of their bizarre situation and realising how they got to that point. Leivo still dreams of his ‘Palm Beach, Finland’ at the end. Giant flamingos everywhere, it’d be hideous.
There were comic moments sprinkled liberally throughout, moments when reality and people’s beliefs about themselves clashed mostly. The descriptions of events were funny, and some of the major events and turning points were situationally hilarious. But it’s a dark humour – Robin and Chico trying to start a small fire and blowing up a shed while getting scorched faces comes to mind. Even the initial killing is humorous in certain lights.
I really enjoyed the plot, the way it all sorted out in the end, and the character development.
Nothing. I liked it.
Amusing darkly comic crime fiction. Very Finnish.