Every decade has its memorable TV crime shows, the seventies had Starsky & Hutch, The Sweeney and Hawaii 5-0 to name a few. The eighties had more than its fair share, such as Cagney & Lacey, Magnum and Knight Rider. Some left us with a catch phrase, like “Book Em Dano” or Regan shouting in a thick London accent, “You’re nicked !!!”, while others left us with a new sense of style. Magnum for example, made bushy mustaches and Hawaiian shirts all the rage, while one other programme of the eighties left us with white linen jackets , matched with crew necked t-shirts and a strange hankering for wearing no socks. Yes, it was of course, Miami Vice. Florida and it’s TV series play a part in this months second review, Palm Beach Finland by Antti Toumainen, which is published by Orenda Books (www.orendabooks.co.uk) on October 18th.
When a mysterious death occurs in a small sleepy Finnish seaside resort, Jan Nyman a leading light in the Helsinki Covert Police unit is sent to investigate. The town is attempting to go through a rebirth, with a large holiday resort in the middle of it branding itself Palm Beach and aiming to be the new mecca for the rich and famous to challenge Monte Carlo and Monaco. Picture any ageing British seaside resort, such as Blackpool or Skegness and you can get a feel for the what type of place this is.
But when Nyman arrives, he discovers behind the garish neon signage and faux Miami-esque frontage a wealth of seedy characters with various reasons for committing the murder, along with a series of further strange events that occur after his arrival. Nyman must get to the bottom of this mystery by any means possible. Assuming the role of a Helsinki mathematics teacher, who is on his holidays, he throws himself literally into the job.
I was expecting a lot from this book, having read and thoroughly enjoyed Toumainen’s last offering, The Man Who Died. But this book let me down and I was left disinterested in a story which moped along and the host of characters who came across as one dimensional and unoriginal. Where The Man Who Died was a real page turner with well rounded characters and a plot that held you vice like until the very end, I must admit I didn’t get to the end of this book by the time of writing review.
The press release claims similarities between it and Fargo. Everyone has tried to emulate Fargo since it appeared and now a days it’s becoming a bit dated. In my opinion the film was great, but the TV series was a step too far and more proof if ever it was needed of Hollywood’s fear of trying new material and sticking to old over-worked formula. The nearest thing to come close to Fargo in recent times was this year’s smash hit “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri”, which funnily enough shared the same leading lady – Francis McDormand.
This is Finnish author and script writer, Antii Toumainen’s (www.anttitoumainen.com) seventh novel. The others include The Healer (2013), The Mine (2016) and The Man Who Died (2016). He has won numerous awards for his writing, including The Clue Award for “Best Finnish Crime Novel” in 2011 for The Healer. He was crowned “The King Of Helsinki Noir” by the Finnish press in 2013 on the publication of Dark As My Heart.
Having read his previous work and seeing what this man can do with a fresh perspective on a simple story, don’t let me deter you from picking up a copy of this or his previous books. I look forward to his next offering. To see what the other reviewers thought of the book, see the list of their websites below and go visit them.