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‘Palm Beach Finland…’ he began and hadn’t managed to formulate the rest of the question before the woman replied.

‘The name is new, the place is old,’ said Koski and glanced behind her. ‘The new owner painted a few walls, put up a sign and renamed the place. He wants to give it an international feel and appeal to foreign tourists.’

‘How’s that going?’

The woman stopped. They were about to take the wooden steps up to the deck outside the office. She turned and looked at Nyman from above. Her brown eyes flickered.

‘The name has three words,’ she said. ‘And the last of them is Finland. If you’re looking for a holiday in the sun, do you really think this is top of people’s list?’”

—Excerpt from Antti Tuomainen’s Palm Beach Finland

 

Antti Tuomainen’s Palm Beach Finland is fast-paced and action packed from start to finish. It features strong protagonists and an entertaining supporting cast who stumble around the eponymous seaside resort where the novel is primarily set.

Although touted as a cross between Baywatch and Fargo, to my mind, Tuomainen’s style is more in keeping with the great ‘screwball noir’ movies of the past (like personal favourite Arsenic and Old Lace) which combine elements of film noir with the farce of screwball comedy, thus allowing the audience to laugh out loud at shocking crimes and acts of extreme violence.

In Tuomainen’s novel, a suspicious death leads undercover detective Jan Nyman to Palm Beach Finland, a rebranded tourist resort and the ‘brainchild’ of entrepreneur Jorma Leivo. The prime suspect is Olivia Koski, newly returned to town, who discovers the body in the house she inherits from her father. As Jan meets the host of likeable yet eccentric people who inhabit ‘the hottest beach in Finland’, he quickly discovers that nothing in the town is as it appears and that, like him, most of the inhabitants aren’t who or what they initially seem.

In Palm Beach Finland, the hinterland of characters are engagingly likeable, particularly the crooks who shine through, even while committing their most reprehensible crimes, and Tuomainen’s adept writing and sharp humour are highlighted by David Hackston’s fluid translation.

A tightly written novel – funny, clever, slick. A must.

 

Palm Beach Finland | Antti Tuomainen | Orenda Books | October 2018 | paperback | £8.99

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Music: Main title, Bullitt by Lalo Schifrin; ‘Put your money where your mouth is’, Rose Royce; ‘T stands for Trouble’, Marvin Gaye.

Also of interest:  Arsenic and Old Lace: ‘The cellar’s crowded already…’

 

Acknowledgements: Quoted text, pp. 119–20 © Antti Tuomainen 2017; English translation © David Hackston 2018. Image ‘A book at bedtime’ © The Literary Shed 2018.This review is published as part of the virtual book tour, organised by Anne Cater of #RandomThingsTours. Thanks to Anne, and to the publisher for supplying a book proof. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

 

Selected The Literary Lounge Q&As/interviews:  ‘Gunnar Staalesen: The Literary Lounge Q&A’; Some like it hot – the joy of Carole Mortimer, award-winning novelist; ‘Meet Gina Kirkham: The Literary Lounge Q&A.

See also: ‘Beautiful words – The Language of Secrets‘;‘Chris Whitaker’s mad, mad world – Tall Oaks’; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir’; ‘Johana Gustawsson’s Keeper – indie publisher Orenda does it again‘; ‘We should all be feminists’; ‘Jane Harper’s stylish debut – The Dry’; ‘Mallory an old-style hero – It Happens in the Dark by Carol O’Connell’.

Film: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) – a Billy Wilder classic?; Night Mail (1936), changing the face of British film; A Colour Box by Len Lye (1935); Hitchcock (2012); The Splendour of George Stevens’ Giant (1956). Hitchcock (2012); The Splendour of George Stevens’ Giant (1956).

 

This review is © 2018 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.