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Palm Beach, Finland by Antti Tuomainen

Article by Swirl and Thread ©.
Posted in | .

‘Sex, lies and ill-fitting swimwear … Sun Protection Factor 100.’

Sometimes I just love reading a book that has a quirky edge to it, a book that would not normally be on my radar. Today I have my review for you all of such a book.Palm Beach, Finland is the personification of quirky and is described as being a book that gives a nod to, that wackiest of movies, Fargo.

Described as giving ‘a nod to the darkest noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a wicked black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives … from the King of Helsinki Noir, Antti Tuomainen’.

‘Fargo meets Baywatch’…..how could you not be curious with a tagline like that!

Antti Toumainen was crowned the King of Helsinki Noir by the Finnish Press in 2013. It is only in recent years though, with fantastic translation and the determination of the incredible Karen O’ Sullivan of Orenda Books, that his books have been made available to a wider audience. Before I go any further, I must mention translator David Hackston. He is a British translator of Finnish and Swedish literature and drama, and in 2007 he was awarded the Finnish State Prize for Translation. He does an incredible job here folks, excellently translated, cursing and all!

Palm Beach, Finland, a book with a summertime pink and blue cover, but with a crocodile lurking in a magic ball. This is where Finland meets Miami, with holiday homes named after certain characters of a certain TV show..think white suits and sunglasses.

Olivia Koski has returned home, back to the place of her birth. After a number of broken relationships and the death of her father, Olivia is looking to make a few changes in her life. The family home she has inherited is in need of major repair works and Olivia is broke. Close to where she lives, Jorma Leivo, has a plan, a dream. He builds a resort that will rival any in the South of France or on the coast of Florida. Like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, Leivo hopes that if he builds it, they will come.

‘Turquoise, pastel blue, pastel pink, pastel green. The entire resort was shrouded in a garish glow: the buildings by the shore, the restaurant, the chalets and changing booths, the shop, the windsurfing rental facilities, even the pizzeria…The beach was dotted with similarly gaudy sunshades, the specific purpose of which was a matter of some discussion. The continuous wind and near-freezing water kept the deckchairs stubbornly empty.’

The resort is fully staffed from the rental shops to the lifeguards but still, the guests do not come. But Leivo is not finished dreaming. He has big plans and nothing will get in his way.

Palm Beach, Finland is a quiet resort, a place where little enough happens. When the body of a stranger is discovered, murdered, in the home of Olivia Koski, the National Central Police are called in. Jan Nyman is chosen, as the best member of covert operations, to get to the bottom of this case and he arrives in Palm Beach, Finland as Jan Kaunisto, a maths teacher on vacation.

As Jan soon discovers there is a melting pot of crazed individuals living on Palm Beach. It’s almost as though he falls down the rabbit hole! There are some scenes in this book that are so far out, so unexpected that I just really did not see it coming. Many of the characters are out for their own survival, yet friendship also shines through. The notion of developing a sunshine resort in such a location is insane but you have to love a dreamer. Leivo has a naivety about him, making him a lovable rogue although he does have a cut-throat edge to him, as he is prepared to do anything to achieve his ambitions.

Palm Beach, Finland is far-out, it really is. It’s a combination of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers, let loose with a Dulux colour card and a shovel. It’s a head wrecker of a book but in a fun kinda way.

Palm Beach, Finland is completely unpredictable. It is dark. It is eccentric. It is crime fiction with a zany twist.

Hats off Mr Tuomainen, you have introduced me to a whole new world….that of Finnish Noir.

Unconventional. Witty. Bizarre.

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.