THE MINE

by Antti Tuomainen

About Antti Tuomainen:

Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b. 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother's Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen's third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for 'Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011' and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labeled The Healer - the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki - 'unputdownable'. Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen "The king of Helsinki Noir" when Dark as my Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula.

In the dead of winter, investigative reporter Janne Vuori sets out to uncover the truth about a mining company, whose illegal activities have created an environmental disaster in a small town in Northern Finland. When the company’s executives begin to die in a string of mysterious accidents, and Janne’s personal life starts to unravel, past meets present in a catastrophic series of events that could cost him his life. A traumatic story of family, a study in corruption, and a shocking reminder that secrets from the past can return to haunt us, with deadly results.

 

Translated by David Hackston.

 

This year I’ve read lots of crime novels involving plots with environmental issue. I’ve also read many set in cold, dark climates. This one, from Orenda Books, is a superior version. The style and quality of writing is so good it’s hard to believe it’s a translation.  

 

The Mine is a tautly written, emotional story with a flawed hero. We have the smells, sights and sounds of Northern Finland, and atmospheric chills aplenty. I was not familiar with Tuomainen but now I’ve another Scandi author for my list.

 

It’s not layered with too much plot, in fact, just enough for it to make a good film. Janne Vuori is soon on the back of a hazardous nickel mine after an email tip off. The government wanted the reopened mine to boost the struggling economy but it’s hard to be profitable and environmentally conscious. Janne is a journalist, focused on chasing the big story that’ll make his reputation and this could be it.

 

His work ethic is to the detriment of his family duties with his partner Pauliina and their young daughter Ella side-lined. Pauliina is the sensible one in the relationship, with her wage providing the family’s steady income.

 

The Janne chapters are written in first person. The other main narrator is a mysterious hitman – a man equally well depicted and complex.  

 

Previously a journalist had investigated the mines but he seemingly died in a car accident. However, his old school approach left a paper trail which, via a code and the dead man’s daughter, Janne may gain access to. But progress is at a cost, with Janne’s family life breaking down, and serious threats to their safety are not making things any easier. Meanwhile, the company’s bosses have been dying, in what appear to be accidents and suicides.

 

Can Janne uncover the truth, save his family and repair a relationship with a father that left 30 years ago?