The Man Who Died

Written by Antti Tuomainen

Review written by Amy Myers

Amy Myers is known for her short stories and historical novels featuring Victorian chef Auguste Didier and chimney sweep Tom Wasp. Her contemporary series features classic car detective Jack Colby, and she is currently working on a new 1920s mystery series featuring Nell Drury, chef at Kent’s Wychbourne Court.


The Man Who Died
Orenda
RRP: £8.99
Released: October 10 2017
PBK

Jaakko Kaunismaa, who owns a mushroom business with his wife Taina in a small Finnish town, faces two challenges at the age of 37. One is that a competitive firm has just set up nearby in the face of the monopoly Jaakko has always held. The second is that he is told that he is going to die within weeks, perhaps days. As a corollary of that, he realises that he has been systematically and deliberately poisoned over a period of time and it is too late to remedy the situation.

Time may be running out but Jaakko isn’t going to leave it at that. Every minute he has left is going to be spent not only on finding out who has been poisoning him, but on turning whatever tables he can against the perpetrator or perpetrators. Pushing aside all obstacles, no matter the cost, he begins his search.   Complete with a host of interesting characters and weird situations, he storms his way through twist after twist in this remarkable thriller.

Antti Tuomainen is known in his native Finland as the ‘king of Helsinki noir’ and having read The Man Who Died I’m now a captivated reader of this author. The Man Who Died is not his first novel but he writes in its Acknowledgements that it has a newer approach when contrasted against his previous work. It certainly is different to the standard thriller – if there is such a thing. Narratively speaking Tuomainen presents a straightforward laid-back narrative, told in the first person, full of black humour with a beginning that makes one gasp and a riveting story, but it has true style, and it has presence.

All books have to end, even narratives as good as this, but it’s so well-crafted that the dénouement fully satisfies, as well as provokes thought.

This remarkable novel is truly extraordinary, a gem of a thriller, beguilingly and well written, lively and thoughtful. I don’t read Finnish, but this translation reads so well I forgot it was one. May the king of Finnish noir live forever!

Editorial Note : Translated from the Finnish by David Hackston



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