Is this two giveaways in a row from Orenda Books?! Yes, yes it is.
I’m so excited to be on the blog tour today for Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen. A huge thank you to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for the invitation and the generous giveaway. To enter to win, just comment below! Open internationally, winner to be announced in two days. Good luck!
Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village – the ‘hottest beach in Finland’. The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary. With a nod to Fargo, and the darkest noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a wicked black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives … from the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’.
about the author:
Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards.
It was an accident. An unfortunate turn of events. It was a misun- derstanding, a delicate imbalance between push and shove. And thus the neck broke like a plank snapping in two.
They met opposite the sign. Kari ‘Chico’ Korhonen was the first to arrive. He tried to look as though he wasn’t waiting for anyone, but this proved unexpectedly difficult. Chico tried to look at the sign as though he was seeing it for the first time, as though he were walking past and just happened to glance to the side. Ten steps towards the shore, a quick look to the right:
PALM BEACH FINLAND It’s the hottest beach in Finland.
A flinch, as if he’d forgotten something, then ten steps back towards the city, a look to the left:
PALM BEACH FINLAND It’s the hottest beach in Finland.
To Chico, the change was as mind-blowing as the arrival of colour television. Jorma Leivo, the beach resort’s new owner, seemed to have flicked a giant colour switch. In only two months, what was once known as Martti’s Motel had transmogrified into Palm Beach Finland, as though an earthy grey egg had hatched to reveal a brightly coloured, sweetly singing bird.
Chico liked the new colour scheme: turquoise, pastel blue, pastel pink, pastel green. The entire resort, which Jorma Leivo had also renamed and completely rebranded, was shrouded in a garish glow: the buildings by the shore, the restaurant, the chalets and changing booths, the shop, the windsurfing rental facilities, even the pizze- ria. Everything gleamed with a thick coat of fresh paint. The sign itself measured twenty metres by five metres; passers-by were posi- tively blinded by its bright neon colours, its monolithic lettering and slogan. Given its location, it was probably visible as far away as Tallinn. The beach was dotted with similarly gaudy sunshades, the specific purpose of which was a matter of some discussion. The con- tinuous wind and near-freezing water kept the deckchairs stubbornly empty. Along its other side, meanwhile, the beach was edged with a brave new row of trees, which Chico enjoyed strolling past. Palm trees, freshly planted. Plastic, of course, but still.
Life was changing. It was about to begin.
What else could this possibly mean?
Moreover, what might this mysterious meeting with Jorma Leivo
hold in store?
Never mind that their first encounter had come about because
Chico had been caught pickpocketing. It was an accident, pure and simple. Chico had been watching a podgy woman wobbling towards the water; he’d sauntered up to her handbag, pinched a few lunch coupons and returned to the lifeguards’ post, where Leivo was waiting. He didn’t listen to Chico’s excuses about a sudden cash- flow crisis or how problematic high-season prices had become for the locals, but said soon afterwards that he – Leivo, that is – might have use for a man of action with a bit of nous. A man just like Chico. And when Leivo mentioned that when you spend your time fumbling about with fivers you miss out on the big bucks, Chico had seen the gates opening before him. Breaking through was always about luck, about chance, he knew that. He’d read the biographies, he knew how Eric Clapton and Bruce Springsteen had started out and…
Chico turned. Robin’s brown eyes met his. ‘What are you sorry for?’ asked Chico.
Robin looked at him. Robin’s entire head was covered in what looked like an even black rug a millimetre thick. It was impossible to tell where his stubble began, where his hair ended, where exactly his face was. Nor was there anything to suggest that Robin was a cook, that he worked in the pastel-blue restaurant on the beach: formerly The Hungry Herring, now Beverly Hills Dining.
‘I thought it wouldn’t matter if I turned up late, seeing as we’re supposed to be meeting here by chance and we’re pretending we don’t know each other. I thought I’d say sorry and ask if you had the time.’
‘But if you know you’re late, then you know what the time is,’ said Chico. ‘And we do know each other. Leivo said this is all top secret, so best not to attract attention. Let’s do as the boss says.’
Robin turned his head, looking in turn at the shore and the town. ‘I can’t see anyone. Nobody can see us either. We can go.’
Robin was a reliable guy, thought Chico, even though he was one sandwich short of a picnic. Besides, Robin was a childhood friend. If you’ve known someone your entire life, then you know them through and through, right? It was seven minutes to seven, and they set off to meet Jorma Leivo.
Judging by his hair and eyes, Jorma Leivo could have been a mad scientist from the silver screen: his crown was bald, straggles of fair hair curled upwards and sideways, and his blue eyes stared with such intensity that before long you had to look away. In other respects he looked like the men in the clothing catalogues from Chico’s childhood. Leivo was trussed up in an extremely pink shirt and a bright-white blazer with shoulder pads that by any standard would be considered over the top. He was sweating profusely and spoke in a voice that was at once gruff and gently encouraging. Chico thought the overall impression was of an international businessman. This was a good sign.
‘Nothing too serious,’ said Jorma Leivo as he looked at them both in turn. ‘A smashed window, a rainwater barrel knocked over, a fire in the shed, a stolen bicycle, someone pisses through the letterbox. Be creative. Little things, annoying things. Preferably every day. Prefer- ably so that each little annoyance is followed by a larger one. You understand the principle. A steep curve that keeps rising and rising.’ Chico waited.
‘I need that house and the plot of land signed over to me within the month,’ Leivo continued. ‘The sooner this happens, the better. A month is the absolute limit. You start today. Any questions?’
Chico tried to look as though he had these kinds of discussions all the time. He leaned back, as relaxed as he could under the circum- stances, crossing his right leg over his left.
‘We’re professionals in our own field—’ Chico began.
‘What field’s that?’ Leivo interrupted.
Chico looked at Leivo. He should have tried to say more. Now he
only had an answer to the next question. Now he…
‘That’s classified information,’ Chico heard from beside him. Robin had spoken. He had spoken the way he usually spoke: as though a tape with random soundbites had started playing within him. Leivo glanced at Robin and leaned backwards. He looked as though he was about to ask quite what Robin meant. Chico couldn’t allow that to happen; he had to turn the truck before it reached the cliff edge. ‘What kind of fee did you have in mind for this, Chief?’ asked Chico.
Leivo looked back at him.
‘Well, I thought I could call you Chief, seeing as you’re the boss.’ ‘Am I?’
Chico thought about this for a moment.
‘It’s hard to talk with staff about who’s the boss,’ he began and
instantly regretted his words. ‘And vice versa, I guess.’
Leivo laid his hands on the table, and opened and clenched his
‘Listen, this is off the record. I’m only your boss when you’re in the lifeguard hut,’ said Leivo, looking first at Chico, then at Robin: ‘And when you’re in my kitchen. Let me be very clear: this job has nothing to do with your other duties.’
Chico could smell the fresh paint on the walls. For a moment a deep silence engulfed the pastel-pink room.
‘I only pay for results,’ said Leivo. ‘The fee is five grand.’
Chico changed position, uncrossed his legs and crossed them again. He wanted only two things: first, he didn’t want to show how much that sum of money meant to him – it meant everything – and second, he needed Robin to keep his mouth shut.
So it looked like the big four-oh wouldn’t come to represent Chico’s failure after all. He would make it. He was thirty-nine years old – but what did it matter? It was meaningless. Because this time next year, he would be in full swing. Eric Clapton was seventy, B. B. King was still performing at the age of eighty-seven. A debut record next year, club gigs, sports halls, stadiums, T-shirt sales, merchandise. Chico would catch up with Eric before his fiftieth birthday party, where a young English woman, her breasts tattooed and gleaming would…
‘That sounds reasonable,’ he said eventually.
‘Of course, it’s for you two to share,’ said Leivo. ‘That’s the full amount.’
‘Five thousand divided by two is two thousand five hundred,’ said Robin.
Two thousand five hundred euros wasn’t quite enough for a bona fide, brand-new custom-designed Les Paul guitar, Chico found himself wondering. Not enough for the kind he had strummed in the instrument shop, the kind he so desperately wanted to get his hands on.
‘It’s up to you how you split the fee,’ said Leivo. ‘What’s most important is that we understand one another. We never had this conversation, and you have never done whatever it is you’re about to do. I don’t want to hear anything about it. I have never paid you anything, you have never received any money from me. And now, this meeting is over.’
Leivo stood up. Chico did not.
Leivo looked at him, almost with a note of impatience. ‘Is some- thing unclear?’
‘In a situation like this, isn’t it usual to provide some kind of down payment?’ asked Chico.
‘Without seeing any results first?’
Chico glanced at Robin, who seemed to be staring at his knees. At least he was still sitting.
‘A down payment is like a retainer,’ said Chico and felt a not insig- nificant amount of pride at his choice of words.
Leivo was silent for a moment, then pulled his wallet from his jacket pocket. ‘What kind of retainer are we talking about?’
Chico tried to conceal quite how unaccustomed he was to talking about such sums of money.
‘Five hundred,’ he said. ‘Per head.’
‘Very well,’ said Leivo, and just as the sense of victory was about to burst out of Chico, he added: ‘I’ll pay you a hundred each and we’ll call it a deal.’
Leivo pulled four fifty-euro notes from a thick wad and handed them across the table to Chico. Chico acted instinctively. He leapt up from his chair and grabbed the cash. It was only then that he realised how flustered he became at the mere sight of money. It had that effect on him. There was nothing he could do about it.
The bills felt ever so slightly damp.