Cruel Is the Night

Karo Hämäläinen, trans. from the Finnish by Owen Witesman. Soho Crime, $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-61695-681-3
Hämäläinen makes his English-language debut with a darkly humorous, carefully crafted Finnish take on the classic British locked-room mystery. Telegraphing the ending first—no one is alive in millionaire banker Robert’s London apartment—Hämäläinen rewinds to the events of a dinner party, to which Robert has invited his old school friend Mikko, whose sense of righteousness as an investigative journalist fighting financial corruption leads him to take the occasion as an opportunity to poison Robert for the good of the world. Mikko’s wife, Veera, who is fiercely attached to him despite a long secret affair with Robert, and Robert’s beautiful wife, Elise, whose simplicity hides a complex background, round out the group. Hämäläinen is at ease with using the four distinct character voices to shift the apparent power balance constantly over the course of the evening, providing both thrilling surprises and the dread of inevitability, all in the context of some truly delightful dinner dialogue. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/06/2017
Release date: 04/11/2017
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