This first in a new series made me uncomfortable. Not in a positive way. You know the feeling of being uncomfortable because you are learning something new and the knowledge is making you re-evaluate your own thinking? It isn't that kind of uncomfortable.
No, this novel made me uncomfortable because of the sex and violence, the alcoholism, the feeling of hopelessness. I felt like a voyeur, and I felt sad for an entire culture. Which is wrong. Evaluating the cultures of Finland based on this novel would not be reasonable. Yet reason and emotion will separate at times, and my thoughts will remain tainted by the view presented in this novel.
The setting is a small town just above the Arctic Circle, in the middle of the long Arctic night. There is no doubt that long months without sun combined with temperatures that can fall to 40 degrees below zero are emotionally difficult; plenty of statistic back up the fact that populations that live in these conditions have higher incidences of alcoholism, depression, and suicide.
But Jeez...does every character have to have one or more of these symptoms. Even the protagonist, Inspector Vaara, has so many problems and such a difficult background that it is a wonder he can keep going.
The book has a definite crime noir flavor, but the graphic violence, callous sexuality, and overwhelming sense of despair (admittedly, this is probably not the exactly the author's intent) does not encourage me to follow Inspector Vaara in the future.
And I figured out the culprit pretty early, although I did question myself as new red herrings presented themselves...
Fiction. Crime/Mystery. 2009. 264 pages.