cover image Holy Ceremony

Holy Ceremony

Harri Nykänen, trans. from the Finnish by Kristian London. Bitter Lemon, $14.95 trade paper (248p) ISBN 978-1-908524-89-8

In Nykänen’s complex third mystery featuring Helsinki cop Ariel Kafka to be translated into English (after 2014’s Behind God’s Back), Kafka is summoned to an apartment where the naked corpse of Roosa Nevala, who had a history of psychiatric problems, lies on a sofa, her back adorned with ominous Biblical citations. The case becomes even more bizarre when the medical examiner recognizes her as the same woman who fatally overdosed on sedatives the day before and was brought to his morgue to be autopsied. Kafka is further unsettled when a letter to him is found under Nevala’s body, signed by “The Adorner of the Sacred Vault,” who refers to a holy ceremony that will end only after an evil dragon is slain. When Nevala’s corpse vanishes again, Kafka is called by the thief, who advises him to “follow the signs of fire” to learn the truth. The solution to the subsequent murders that Kafka eventually learns of is particularly clever, and Nykänen is careful to plant the clues to whodunit and why fairly. Readers will look forward to Kafka’s next outing. (Mar.)