Saturday, 17 December 2016
Book review - The Mine by Antti Tuomainen (translated by David Hackston)
A hitman. A journalist. A family torn apart. Can he uncover the truth before it’s too late?
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 … The Mine is a gripping, beautifully written, terrifying and explosive thriller by the King of Helsinki Noir.
When Janne Vuori receives an anonymous tip off suggesting a nickel mine in northern Finland is engaged in hazardous activities he can't help to be interested. As an ambitious journalist he realises this could be an important story. He persuades his boss to allow him to conduct an investigation but as he delves further into the corrupt mining company's actions both he and his family - his wife Pauliina and two year old daughter Ella - are under threat. Slowly his personal life falls apart. He and Pauliina have stopped communicating, both angry with each other. She resents his preoccupation with his job but he is consumed with a need to write and to know the truth. Meanwhile the father he hasn't seen for thirty years comes back into his life and he isn't sure what relationship, if any, he wants with this man.
The Mine is a conspiracy thriller but it's also three stories in one, stories that are inextricably linked to each other. The first is Janne's investigation, gradually the truth is revealed and I have to say I really appreciated the pace of this book. This is not a story that races to an explosive finish, it's mostly written in the first person from Janne's viewpoint and as such we experience the frustrations he feels as he is faced with false leads and uncertainties. Tuomainen has a wonderful writing style, he doesn't use words unnecessarily yet his descriptions are vivid and he creates an atmospheric and tense story that draws the reader in. The second story within the book is that of Janne's personal life, the sense of regret and bitterness is palpable. Sometimes in thrillers I feel the protagonist's messy home life feels one dimensional, this is definitely not the case here. The characters' anger, disappointment and need for acceptance if not forgiveness are believable and ultimately quite touching. The third story within the story is told in the third person and is less about Janne than about a hitman, ruthless, experienced and seemingly cold but is slowly revealed to be more than a heartless killer and whose actions are directly linked both to Janne and his investigation. The three parts of the story combine to form a book that is taut, compelling and drew me in from start to finish. This is the second book I've read for Orenda Books blog tour, The Finnish Invasion and I feel I can't finish without praising the work of David Hackston who has translated both books so they flow seamlessly. Orenda is a small publisher whose output continues to impress me, they have become my go to for innovative fiction I know I will enjoy. Many thanks for my copy of The Mine received in return for my review.