In the dead of winter, investigative reporter Janne Vuori sets out to uncover the truth about a mining company, whose illegal activities have created an environmental disaster in a small town in Northern Finland. When the company’s executives begin to die in a string of mysterious accidents, and Janne’s personal life starts to unravel, past meets present in a catastrophic series of events that could cost him his life. A traumatic story of family, a study in corruption, and a shocking reminder that secrets from the past can return to haunt us, with deadly results.
Hi and welcome to the last #TuomainenTuesday! Until the King of Helsinki Noir a.k.a. the funniest writer in Europe provides us with new reading material, that is! In the meantime, I will be checking out Antti’s backlist, but they’re not with Orenda Books, and in any case I’m all out of #Orentober Tuesdays, so I’ll talk about those in another month.
I started #Orentober and my #TuomainenTuesday series with Antti’s latest novel, Little Siberia. Over the past weeks I’ve been working my way back via Palm Beach, Finland and The Man Who Died to Antti’s first novel published by Orenda Books: The Mine.
So what is The Mine all about? A reporter named Janne, his partner Pauliina with whom things have not been great, his father Emil whom he hasn’t seen for years and who happens to be a hit man and his investigation into a mine in Northern Finland. Said investigation is absolutely thrilling, because the more Janne digs, the more upsetting stuff he finds, it’s a whole cesspool, with most of the involved parties desperate to keep the lid on it, and desperate times call for desperate measures… The more Janne becomes invested in this investigation, the worse things get with his family, with his partner blaming him for this absence (of body, but especially of mind). The setting in Northern Finland is similar to Little Siberia, the snow and the cold adding an almost claustrophobic vibe to the story. I’m not sure how Antti does it, but once again I could almost feel snowflakes brushing my cheeks, even though I was reading this on one of the last warm days of summer.
I’ve been telling you for weeks how funny Antti and his novels are, but The Mine didn’t have the kind of dark humour that Antti’s later novels have in spades. I feel that this is a pivotal book, the transition from very dark crime thrillers to darkly funny ones. Does this mean I enjoyed The Mine less than Antti’s later work? No, not at all! I enjoyed it on another level; it might not be burst-out-laughing-funny, but like Antti’s later novels, it’s entertaining and suspenseful and atmospheric. Once again, Antti had me on the edge of my seat, anxious to find out what would happen to Janne with regards to his investigations into the mine, but also in terms of his relationships, the one with his partner, and especially the one with his dad.
The Mine has some of the best passages I’ve read all year, beautifully worded dry observations that I read again and again, thinking ohmigod yes I’ve never thought of it that way but he’s absolutely right! Here are are few quotes that I just had to share with you:
And yet there was nothing routine about his work. Emil thought of how one of the two men waiting here – probably the bearded clown with the slippery feet – had kicked his son in the face. How these men had followed his son, either to frighten him or to do something worse. It was hard to hold in check the emotions that these deeds awoke in him. But, as he had learned in the past, the surest way to add fuel to the fire of such thoughts was to try to rein them in. And so he let his feelings hang in the air and waited until they floated away, like a dark cloud disappearing over the horizon. Only by letting everything else go could he finally grasp the important elements, hold them tight. This he had learned.
Sometimes time leaps forwards, sometimes it crawls. Sometimes time disappears and leaves us floating in space. After that, all that is left for us is a free-fall back to the earth, a return to a life that has changed irrevocably, become fragile and startlingly unfamiliar.
The waiter appeared and collected their plates, leaving the coffee pot. Emil poured them both a fresh cup. Only the most significant moments in life can be this mundane. Life doesn’t come crashing down around us when a champagne bottle is popped open. Life creaks at the seams and the sun and the stars shine in the sky as you sit down on a bus, unsuspecting, and stare through the sleet at the landscape beyond the window, or as you wash the dishes, your back aching. The phone rings, your heart stops. It’s at moments like this that a partner, whom you’ve trusted for years, tells you over supper they are leaving, that they’ve found someone else and will be moving out the very next day.
Well, frankly, I don’t have anything to add, so I’ll leave you with that! If these little snippets have made you hungry for more, than do check out The Mine in the Orenda eBookstore or get it in paperback from your preferred retailer.