Nykänen’s twist on Nordic crime fiction may be the most inventive of the year. Ariel Kafka, a middle-aged bachelor, is a detective in Helsinki (think early Harry Hole) and, as far as he knows, the only Jew on the entire Helsinki police force, which is why he’s picked to head up the investigation of a series of murders that began with two Arabic-looking men who may have been shouting Jewish obscenities as they died. Set during the days leading up to Yom Kippur, this complex tale moves quickly, as Ari attempts to figure it all out. With pressure from his colleagues, police administration, his brother, and the local Jewish community, can he uncover everything before the holiest day in the Jewish calender? The clever combination of classic Jewish themes with the traditions of Nordic crime makes for a refreshing tale with wide appeal. And the subtle humor, combined with a hero who is not completely depressed and alcoholic, makes it even better. Not just for readers of Nordic fiction, this should also be suggested to those who relate to New York Jewish detectives, including Lenny Briscoe (from Law & Order) and John Munch (from Homicide and Law & Order: SVU), as well as readers who enjoy the black humor of Stuart MacBride.’ Booklist
Harri Nykänen, born in Helsinki in 1953, was a well-known crime journalist before turning to fiction. He won the Finnish crime writing award The Clue in 1990 and in 2001. His fiction exposes the local underworld through the eyes of the criminal, the terrorist, and, most recently, from the point of view of an eccentric Helsinki police inspector.