Saturday, 10 August 2013

Nights of Awe by Harri Nykänen

" I'm first and foremost a police officer, second a Finn, and only third a Jew." - announces Inspector Ariel Kafka of Helsinki when confronted with the idea of conflict of interest. He also points out the reason Jews are rare in police force in Finland.

"People seemed to have a strong belief that Jews have some secret, Old Testament-based motive for not joining the police force. In reality, there was only one reason: the lousy pay."

Inspector Kafka is called to the scene of crime where bodies of two Arabs are found, one stabbed, shot and mutiliated, the other crushed by a train as he jumped off a bridge in front of a moving train. From the sparse clues they find on the bodies, they discover another location with uhm.. two more bodies of Arabs. Also from the initial clues they find uhm... two more bodies. So that's six so far. The story starts with finding another body that is not connected to this crime. That's not all there are three more bodies to be discovered before the story comes to a conclusion. That's ten bodies, nice round number.

After finding the first two bodies, Kafka's subordinates come up with a few theories. After discovery of two more, they come up with some more theories. There are abundant theories, do they accommodate all the dead bodies that would crop up?

The problem with finding these bodies, in usual crime fiction/ thriller, the suspicion moves from one to another, as the person comes into focus, he/she is killed and there is some build up of suspense before the person is killed. Nothing like that at all here. It is more like digging a graveyard. You just unearth more and more bodies. Mostly Arab, some Jews, and a few Finns too.

I liked the beginning and the humour when it surfaces now and then. And as the story progresses and more bodies crop up I got irritated. And by the time suspicion moves from one person to another there are just too many theories to even bother.

Ariel Kafka is a Jew for a purpose, isn't he? Bring in the anti-semitism angle, Mossad, Israeli-Palestinian problem, with it terrorism. Also involve important members from his Synagogue in the plot. They show keen interest in the case, including his own brother. So why are these people interested in the investigations? Do they have a personal stake?But we know in the fictional world, the reason for killings is always simple. Will the solution for these deaths be simple? It is. And that's part I liked most. The final twist with its simple solution. To reach the simple solution you have to go through a really complicated plot with lots of twists.

Translated from Finnish by Kristian London and published in English in 2012.


Gilion Dumas said...

This sounds great! And I have no Finland books on my radar, so I am going to pin this review.

Thanks for sharing your review on the European Reading Challenge!

srivalli said...

Thanks for stopping by! Thanks to European Reading Challenge, i am exploring new crime authors from various countries.