Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen (tr. by David Hackston) #BookReview #BlogTour

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 crime novel 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.

I am thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for Little Siberia today, huge thanks to Antti Tuomainen, Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

I've made no secret of the fact that I love Antti Tuomainen's other darkly humorous books, The Man Who Died and Palm Beach, Finland but I also really really enjoyed his previous gritty noir novels; Little Siberia combines the best of both sides of his writing personality and is brilliantly translated once again by David Hackston.
When a meteorite crashes into a former rally driver's car, it prevents him from carrying out his bleak plan but quickly becomes the trigger for mayhem and bloodshed in the remote town of Hurmevaara. It transpires that the meteorite is highly valuable and is being kept for safe keeping in the War Museum until it can be collected for its journey to Helsinki and then London, where it will be examined in a laboratory. Security at the museum is being overseen by a team of local volunteers, including the pastor, Joel. 
At the start of the novel, it is already clear that Joel is troubled by his thoughts; he has withheld important information from his wife, and has another secret too as he doubts his faith in God. He is coerced into covering that night's shift at the museum when the other members of the security team claim to have plans. On his previous night there, he sent half an hour reading the Bible and then the rest of the time with James Ellroy but on this night, somebody else has plans for the meteorite and it's the start of a frantic few days for the priest. The first attempt to steal the valuable rock goes very wrong  - with viscerally explosive results. Joel is injured but is more hurt by the news he heard earlier that evening - his wife, Krista is pregnant and he knows he can't be the father. Joel has taken a physical and emotional battering and it's this which determines his decision to turn detective as he resolves to stop the theft of the meteorite and to discover who is the father of Krista's baby.
What follows is a sharply perceptive tale of greed and temptation interspersed with moments of delightfully dark comedy in a town peopled with some wonderfully eccentric characters but it is also far more than that. Joel obviously has some painful memories from his time as an military chaplain in Afghanistan which  has led to him doubting his belief in God. When he then discovers that his wife - his other rock - has been unfaithful, it's not surprising that for a time he questions everything he knows. At its heart, Little Siberia is actually a poignant look at a man's search for faith, love and hope and his need to understand that the source is actually within himself. This is a very different book to his previous two black comedies in that the humour here is slightly more understated but what Antti Tuomainen always does so well is to recognise that life is often absurd, even during the hardest moments. The humour in the novel never detracts from the tension or the emotion but instead ensures that these flawed, complicated people always feel so very real. 
Little Siberia has it all - a tense, thrilling plot, wryly perceptive humour, genuine and heartfelt emotion,  and is written with all the astute characterisation and beautifully atmospheric sense of place I have come to expect from Antti Tuomainen's books. It was an absolute joy to read and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Little Siberia is published by Orenda Books, purchasing links can be found here.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. 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 became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards.
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About the Translator
David Hackston is a British translator of Finnish and Swedish literature and drama. He graduated from University College London in 1999 with a degree in Scandinavian Studies and now lives in Helsinki where he works as a freelance translator. Notable publications include The Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy, Maria Peura’s coming-of-age novel At the Edge of Light, Johanna Sinisalo’s eco-thriller Birdbrain and two crime novels by Matti Joensuu. David is currently working on a translation of Riku Korhonen’s latest novelSleep Close. His drama translations include three plays by Heini Junkkaala, most recently Play it, Billy! (2012) about the life and times of jazz pianist Billy Tipton. David is also a regular contributor to Books from Finland. In 2007 he was awarded the Finnish State Prize for Translation. David is also a professional countertenor and is currently studying early music and performance practice at Helsinki Metropolia University. He is a founding member of the English Vocal Consort of Helsinki.


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