JARKKO SIPILÄ – Helsinki Homicide: Against the Wall. Ice Cold Crime, trade paperback, 2009. Originally published in Finland by Gummerus as Seinää Vasten. Translated by Peter Ylitalo Leppa.

JARKKO SIPILA Helsinki Homicide

   The eighth in the police procedural series centered around Kari Takamäki (a male, not female, Kari), the fictional chief of the Helsinki homicide squad (which also handles other serious crime), this is the first in the series to be published in the United States.

   The main character in this outing is Suhonen/Sukkanen, an undercover cop who virtually lives his job. We learn a bit more about the criminals’ personal lives than we do those of the cops. The various cops and crooks quickly become distinct, individual characters, though the names can be a little difficult to keep straight.

   The members of the Skulls gang are truly frightening; the hapless, small-time loser who gets in way over his head eventually draws our sympathy, but that’s cold, cold comfort.

   This is a whydunit, not a whodunit, with a fast pace that makes up for the rather inelegant translation. It’s worth seeking out for fans of Scandinavian crime fiction or those who like a fairly strict procedural flavor to their fiction.

   This book might be hard to find, but you can try and I purchased it at a Swedish Institute event, had it inscribed, read it, and now have no idea where I’ve put it. That’s my life these days.