Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Hummingbirds, punk rock and under-privileged puffins... all in a day's work in Finland.

Having just returned from CrimeFest15 in sunny Bristol I have to admit to having been slightly overwhelmed during my three days there by the number of authors to meet and the sheer volume of books to read or at least to put on my ‘to read as soon as I physically can’ list. I didn’t wind up with too much in the way of reading time anyway what with panels to listen to, sights to see and late night shenanigans to participate in but I did finish the one book I took with me as my CrimeFest travelling companion.

‘The Hummingbird’ by Finnish author and punk rock superstar Kati Hiekkapelto is about an immigrant police officer recently assigned to a small coastal town in the north of Finland. Anna Fekete soon finds herself investigating a string of seemingly random murders while also trying to help the daughter of a local immigrant family. An ongoing conflict with one of her workmates and a brother who is only slightly better than completely hopeless combine to give Anna plenty of doubts about her ability to stick things out in her new home.

‘The Hummingbird’ is the most interesting book in the genre I've read since Antti Tuomainen's 'The Healer' (also Finnish – I’m starting to see a pattern emerging here) and is well worth checking out. It is different (in a really good way) from the usual Nordic Noir fare and very intelligently written. Anna is an engaging and human protagonist who is easy to identify with as well as being easy to like. Kati's second book, 'The Defenceless' is coming out in the UK in September and on the evidence of this book will be well worth investigating.

In the meantime Kati and her band ‘The Bearded Women’, which consists of Kati on vocals, one of her friends playing guitar and a drum machine that is so stubborn it will only play one beat for them (Huh… Drummers!) will continue to attempt world domination from their outpost base on the island of Hailuoto at the top end of the Gulf of Bothnia. I also have it on good authority that becoming a bestselling author and chart-topping punk diva won’t even get close to satisfying this ambitious woman. She has much grander dreams in the pipeline.

In 2016 she intends to circumambulate Iceland using its famous Ring Road. This televised event - it will be covered in its entirety by Iceland’s national broadcaster RUV who will dedicate a new 24 hour channel to her exploits in an attempt to bring gripping Icelandic reality television to the rest of the world - will be done to raise money for immigrant puffins and in particular to finance the education of their children. Education of under-privileged seabirds has been a passion of Kati’s for many years now. As you see she is clearly a multi-talented woman who is continually pushing the boundaries of crime fiction, punk rock and imaginative fundraising campaigns.

At some point in the not too distant future I am going to be held accountable for the tiny portion of this article which I may have made up. In the meantime I am simply going to enjoy it as I think it will take people a ridiculous amount of time to figure it which bit it actually is. I was going to include Kati’s stage name in the article but have been warned by my publisher that the use of such language will have me fired from the company once again and I’m not ready to go back on a diet of dried fish and watered-down vodka. That shit really sucks!

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