cover image Nights of Awe

Nights of Awe

Harri Nykänen, trans. from the Finnish by Kristian London. Bitter Lemon, $14.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-904738-92-3

Professional responsibility and ethnic affiliation clash in Nykänen’s intriguing first novel starring Finnish police detective Ariel Kafka. With Helsinki’s Jewish community dwindling, the local synagogue often lacks the required quorum for prayers, but Kafka believes he serves his community best by dedicating himself to his duties with the city’s Violent Crimes Unit rather than being a regular synagogue attendee. Ironically, Kafka is relieved to be called to a homicide scene to get out of an uncomfortable conversation with his rabbi. Near a railway bridge, someone shot a young male foreigner four times and stabbed him twice, then sliced off his nose and ears. A second dead man, possibly the killer, appears to be an Arab, who broke his neck after jumping onto a moving train. When two more bodies surface shortly afterward, Kafka becomes concerned that the bloodshed is linked to the impending visit of the Israeli foreign minister. The resolution will satisfy noir fans. (Apr.)