– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Little Siberia’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but b
About the Author :
Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died (2017) became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. Palm Beach Finland (2018) was an immense success, with The Times calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’.
PUBLICATION DATE: 17 OCTOBER 2019 | PAPERBACK ORIGINAL | £8.99 | ORENDA BOOKS
Fargo meets Nietzsche in this atmospheric, darkly funny thriller by the critically acclaimed author of The Man Who Died and Palm Beach Finland. A huge Finnish bestseller, Little Siberia topped both literary and crime charts in 2018, and has gone on to sell rights in 24 countries.
A man with dark thoughts on his mind is racing along the remote snowy roads of Hurmevaara in Finland, when there is flash in the sky and something crashes into the car. That something turns about to be a highly valuable meteorite. With euro signs lighting up the eyes of the locals, the unexpected treasure is temporarily placed in a neighbourhood museum, under the watchful eye of a priest named Joel.
But Joel has a lot more on his mind than simply protecting the riches that have apparently rained down from heaven. His wife has just revealed that she is pregnant. Unfortunately, Joel has strong reason to think the baby isn’t his.
As Joel tries to fend off repeated and bungled attempts to steal the meteorite, he must also come to terms with his own situation, and discover who the father of the baby really is.
Transporting the reader to the culture, landscape and mores of northern Finland, Little Siberia is both a dark crime thriller and a hilarious, blacker-than-black comedy about faith and disbelief, love and death, and what to do when bolts from the blue – both literal and figurative – turn your life upside down.
The car is parked in front of a cottage, its engine still running. The headlights illuminate the front of the cottage like a set of spotlights. The cottage is small and run-down. It looks like so many of the old houses round here. The original occupants die and their descendants or distant relatives now spend a week or two at most in the house in the summer – for a couple of years. Then even that comes to an end, and, overwhelmed by the weather and the passing of time, the house starts to subside, like someone losing their grip on a lifebuoy.
I watch the cottage, the car and the two people from the side, like a theatre performance.
The pair are wrestling in the snow between the car and the cottage. No. It’s not really wrestling. One is punching the other, and the other is unable to fight back. The thuds of the punches and the possible shouts that follow are drowned by the sound of the engine. I creep a short distance forwards through the snow between the tree trunks, and from there I’m able to walk along the tracks left by the tyres. I’ve had close combat training, and I know more than just the basics of self-defence. I try to recall everything I’ve learned as I approach the pair.
At the same time I remember why I’ve come out here. I’ve been humiliated enough for one day.
Jeans, a jumper and a flannel shirt are, of course, relatively light attire for such biting cold, but I don’t plan to hang about. I approach the light-blue Nissan Micra; the smell of exhaust fumes is heavy in the calm, starlit night. Rust has eaten away at the rims of the bodywork. I look at the registration number and commit it to memory. I creep behind the car and look for a suitable route. One of the thieves is lying face-down in the snow. I can deal with him later. The other one walks up to the cottage door, unlocks it and steps inside.
I wait for a moment then step out from behind the car and trudge through the snow towards the cottage. I pass the guy lying in the snow on his right side, still keeping my distance. I keep well out of the light, just in case the guy inside glances out through the window. For a split second, I think I see the thief in the snow moving, but perhaps not. The car’s headlights are so bright that I can see a long tear in the right sleeve of his jacket, and in that tear is something dark and wet. Maybe he cut his arm climbing through the broken window at the museum. Beside his left arm is a torch standing almost upright in the snow. I can’t help thinking that this is the object that caused the lump above my ear.
The car’s lights have been left on for a reason – I assume there is no electricity out here. There are two windows at the front of the cottage. In the left-hand one I see a human shadow passing between the floral curtains. I step nearer the door. I know what I’ve come to find. I reach out towards the handle.
Then the world suddenly bursts into flame.
And the door comes flying towards me.
If the snow beneath you feels soft and good, it usually means it’s too late. I know this, but still I enjoy the sensation. Lord knows I need some rest. Or does He? Is there a Lord at all? I open my mouth, snow falls inside. I realise I’m not on a couch or in bed, not discussing what you might call life’s bigger questions. I’m lying in the snow, and I have to get to my feet. I must get up, otherwise I’ll freeze. I have to get inside. Then I remember where I am.
I was about to go inside…
Smoke and dust are billowing from what used to be the windows. The remaining shreds of the curtains dangle round the window frames.
All this I see in the light of the moon and the stars. The Nissan Micra has disappeared. So has the thief who was lying in the snow. I finally haul myself to my feet. I look around, shivering with cold. Beside me, a few metres from the doorway, is the cottage door. I can’t hear anything. I can’t see anyone. There is a trail in the snow, drag marks. And there’s a torch propped upright. I pick up the torch and stand in front of the cottage.
I take a cautious step inside, flick the torch into life and allow the beam of light to wash across the interior of the cottage. I have seen many rooms, apartments and houses just like this. I look in front of me, stepping carefully through the debris. This space was clearly once a combined kitchen and living room.
The fridge seems to have spun round on its axis. The chairs and dining table are spread across the room in different-sized splinters. The shelves have fallen from the walls and collapsed into the middle of the floor. Crockery and various items have smashed, flown through the air and are now strewn in a chaotic mess. And everything – literally everything – seems to have ended up on the floor.
I raise the light from the torch to the walls. Something dark and wet. Small damp blotches, larger ones too. Chunks and strips of solid matter.
I reach the middle of the room and stop. I aim the torch at the floor.
Right in front of the window, where presumably there was once a dining table, is a pair of men’s winter boots. Or, more specifically, a pair of boots and a pair of legs. The legs look like they might belong to a mannequin. The large boots seem to be stepping in opposite directions.
Again I look at the walls. The owner of the legs is smeared evenly across the walls and the ceiling. On the ceiling, right above the feet, is a larger, hairy blob the size of a hotplate on the cooker. Given its colour and the length of the hairs I assume this is a scalp. I look back at the boots. Even without my military training, I know this man doesn’t need an ambulance. He’s not in any danger now.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds