A man with dark thoughts on his mind is racing along the remote snowy roads of Hurmevaara in Finland, when there is a 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.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a huge fan of Antti Tuomainen’s books. From 2017’s The Man Who Died and its Fargo-esque story of a poisoned man looking for his killer, to Palm Beach Finland‘s heady neon cocktail of Miami Vice, with a dash of Baywatch and a beach umbrella to top it off. Huge fun, black comedy at its best.
So, we’ve had #MushroomNoir and #FlamingoNoir. What flavour of Noir will Mr Tuomainen serve up next?
Well, it seems that this time round we’ve got #MeteoriteNoir. A small but very valuable meteorite crashes through the roof of a car on a dark, snowy night and changes the fortunes not only of the driver, but of the entire village. Because someone is out to make their fortune from the hunk of space rock, whatever the cost.
Told with Tuomainen’s signature wit, Little Siberia is another slice of brilliance from the King of Helsinki Noir. He’s got a lovely flair for character, and the inhabitants of Hurmevaara are a motley bunch, beautifully drawn. But characters alone cannot make a story, so we have a splendidly twisty black comedy to tie everything together.
And what a comedy of errors it is. It seems that most of the village is after the meteorite, with only Joel, the hapless town priest, setting his mind to make sure it’s safe until it can be moved on. He’s got his work cut out for him and it’s a sheer joy watching the plans within plans play out over the course of the book.
I loved The Man Who Died and Palm Beach Finland, but Little Siberia might just have pipped them both to be my new favourite of Antti Tuomainen’s books.
As ever, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen is published by Orenda Books on 17th October 2019. Huge thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Anne Cater for inviting me onto the blog tour.
Huge props, as ever, to David Hackston for the excellent translation work.
You can find Antti Tuomainen (and his fabulous shirts) on Twitter @Antti_Tuomainen