Ice Cold Crime

Finnish crime literature places guardians of the law and criminals into the spotlight

Frankfurt, 2. September 2014 – As in other countries around the world, thrillers and crime literature are highly regarded by the Finnish readers and therefore continuously top the Finnish book charts. From only 20 new published books a year during the mid-nineties this has now risen to more than 90 new issues of crime thrillers in Finland In the meantime increasingly more are being translated into German. Subsequently the growing presence of Finnish criminal literature on the German market and is strongly competing with established Swedish and Norwegian authors.

It is common in Germany to classify all Scandinavian criminal literature as “Schwedenkrimi” (Swedish Crime), nonetheless there are major differences: Objective realism – in the description of the milieu as well as personalities of the protagonists in addition to a constant down-to-earth narrative are dominating Finnish thriller and crime literature.

Popular names in the Finnish crime scene are for example Leena Lehtolainen, Matti Rönkä, Ilkka Remes or Taavi Soininvaara, says Paula Arvas PhD, who is the Finnish expert for criminal literature and currently working as programme producer at the University of Helsinki Communications and Community Relations. In her point of view the most promising newcomers are Kati Hiekkapelto, Pekka Hiltunen, Antti Tuomainen and Saara Kesävuori.

Compared to its neighbours, the Finnish history of crime literature is a young as the first crime stories in Finnish were not published until the early 20th century. Prior to this point, brutal murder, its offenders and victims were reported in the form of flyers on the street. In addition translation was active. For example French and British crime literature was translated into Finnish, which exerted its influence on the young and inexperienced Finnish authors where literature was still in its infancy. Due to this tradition more realistic mystery still dominates Finnish crime literature, but also today whodunits and the hard-boiled novels are published by the Finnish crime authors.

However the protagonists of Finnish crime fiction vary. While the reader accompanies the enlightened and headstrong policewoman Maria Kallio on her investigations in Leena Lehtolainen’s detective series, Matti Rönkä introduces in his series Viktor Kärppä, a half-Russian with Finnish roots who operates on a thin line between crime and public service, whereby the reader has to decide on his moral stance. Political correctness is often bypassed in this narrative and as a result the assumed evil can have its nose ahead. In the thrillers by Pekka Hiltunen, the London living and underground affiliated graphic artist Lia and her friend Mari, a psychologist with extraordinary powers, put a stop to the dubious games of slave traders, murderers and power hungry politicians. Kati Hiekkapelto is expected to be the most promising newcomer in Finnish crime literature and her debut novel marks a fascinating prelude of her crime series about young commissioner Anna Fekete. Topically her series covers explosive aspects such as immigration or multiculturalism.

“The Finnish crime literature is at its core very democratic. In addition to the law enforcement officials the villains themselves are spotlighted”, states Paula Arvas, continuing: “Also a typical feature in Finnish crime fiction is its realism, both in illustrating the milieu and characters.” With a wink she goes on: “The essential difference between Swedish and Finnish criminal literature is that we have not yet achieved such a literary breakthrough as the Swedish Stieg Larsson Trilogy.”

The high international potential that is existent in Finnish thrillers and crime literature has become evident through the works of the two most productive crime authors from Finland. The stories of both have successfully been published in Germany and ensure a second wave of Nordic crime literature for the market. Ilkka Remes and Taavi Soininvaara produce nerve-tickling stories in which they mix elements of political and psycho thrillers into the traditional police crime story. The characters act in international settings with Finland as the starting point and hub. Ilkka Remes is one of the most read authors in Finland. His thrillers aimed at an adult or teenaged audience frequently top the bestseller lists. He applies as guaranteed to provide top-class suspense in an international format. Chilling suspense is also delivered to the readers by Taavi Soininvaara, who simultaneously sends his two agents in different directions during their investigations. The books about Arto Ratamo, a scientist who later works as an investigator, have received several awards. Similarly the absorbing stories about the secret organization Mundos Novus and the investigator Leo Kara are a great success in Finland.

Finnland.Cool. presents the thrilling world of the Finnish crime literature at the Frankfurt Bookfair 2014 with support of the following authors: Kati Hiekkapelto, Pekka Hiltunen, Leena Lehtolainen, Matti Rönkä, Taavi Soininvaara and Antti Tuomainen.