Order for £11.69 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Review: The Healer, By Antti Tuomainen
Harvill Secker, £12.99
Tuesday 19 March 2013
"Which was worse – complete certainty that the worst had happened, or this fear, building up moment by moment? Sudden collapse, or slow, crumbling disintegration?" Helsinki is almost submerged under torrential rain, and Finnish society is in an advanced state of decay. Food supplies are almost non-existent, with brutal gangs ruling the streets and social services barely functioning. Worst of all, perhaps, is the threat of diseases, including tuberculosis, ebola and malaria. A nagging obbligato to this breakdown is the never-ending downpour.
Reading this prize-winning third novel by Antti Tuomainen in a sodden Britain makes The Healer seem edgily prescient, but the book belongs to a long line of disaster novels that includes titles by John Christopher and JG Ballard. Tuomainen's book is set in the near future, but nothing here is less than frighteningly plausible.
But if all this suggests a science-fiction piece, that's not quite the whole story. The Healer won the Scandinavian Glass Key crime-fiction prize and, against the vivid picture of climate catastrophe, is still a compelling crime novel.Struggling poet Tapani Lehtinen has decided to continue to live in Helsinki, even as the city crumbles. But his wife Joanna (a journalist) disappears, and he begins a desperate search for her. Everything points to the story she was working on, her search for a serial killer with a political agenda known as The Healer.
It's no accident that Antti Tuomainen's protagonist is a poet. As rendered in this sensitive translation from the Finnish by Lola Rogers, the book's language is as important as the tension generated by the narrative. While Ballard is evoked, the book is a polar opposite to the British author's vision of the slow collapse of society in the face of implacable nature. Here, the hunt for a missing woman by an increasingly distraught hero moves at the same allegro tempo as the vivid Armageddon. A crime novel, yes - but it's the surefooted rendition of rain-washed urban decay that will stay in the mind of most readers.
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Man to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia after ripping up a Koran and hitting it with his shoe
- 3 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Skrillex and Diplo's 24-hour DJ set shut down by police after 18 hours
Alien 5: Sigourney Weaver will reprise Ripley role in new movie, says director Neill Blomkamp
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Drake matches The Beatles' record with 14 singles in top 100 chart at the same time
Aidan Turner interview: 'being a sex symbol is a little awkward'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'