Today I’m pleased to host the next stop on The Finnish Invasion Blog Tour today where I’ll be focusing on The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto, published by Orenda Books. I haven’t managed to finish this book but what I have read has been amazing so far! So instead I’m going to share a cheeky extract of the opening and let you know my thoughts of the novel so far.
Murder. Corruption. Dark secrets. A titanic wave of refugees. Can Anna solve a terrifying case that’s become personal?
Anna Fekete returns to the Balkan village of her birth for a relaxing summer holiday. But when her purse is stolen and the thief is found dead on the banks of the river, Anna is pulled into a murder case. Her investigation leads straight to her own family, to closely guarded secrets concealing a horrendous travesty of justice that threatens them all. As layer after layer of corruption, deceit and guilt are revealed, Anna is caught up in the refugee crisis spreading like wildfire across Europe. How long will it take before everything explodes?
The Exiled Opening Extract:
Droplets of blood on the light-green wallpaper, like overgrown poppies along the verge.
Here, where the hazy grey sky swallows edges of the immense wheat fields, where you can sense the Tisza, the river flowing past, even when you can’t see it. The river is always present, always on the move, arriving, leaving. It flows like a giant artery through the poisoned fields, where weeds, poppies, cornflowers and dandelions are stifled and beaten back, past this small town where life feels unchanged, where time seems to have stopped while the country around it changes name, fights wars, languishes on the precipice of economic collapse, harbours its war criminals, ashamed of itself but too proud to admit its own mistakes. That country contains dozens of identities, nationalities minorities, majorities, languages. It has signed the UN Declaration of Human Rights but doesn’t uphold its contents.
The river will come into blossom any day now. People are saying ut will be the biggest flowering in living memory. Perhaps right now millions of mayfly larvae are beginning to hatch and dig their way out of the mud on the riverbank. Soon they will swarmabove the river like a giant, beautiful cloud of flying flowers; they will mate, lay eggs and die. People gather along the riverbank to celebrate, many takimng their boats out on the water, in among the insects, so they can feel the delicate beating of their wings and the touch of the insects’ rubbery bodies on their skin. The flowering is a wonderous carnival of life and death, an event the town eargerly awaits and that people celebrate with great verve. Nothing like this happens anywhere else in the world – only at this bend in the river, at the centre of this town. As though the town was special, blessed.
Droplets of blood. They converge on the light-green wallpaper into a large, blackening pattern, a giant amoeba. The wall is around two-and-a-half metres high, five metres in length, and behind it is one of the house’s two bedooms. The wall is bare – no paintings, no mirrors. Only plain, light-green wallpaper, and now that pattern in the middle, the anoeba, the poppy field.
A moment earlier a figure cast a shadow as he sat down at the antigue desk by the window. The desk was bare; it had just been cleared, its drawers emptied. From outside came the sound of footsteps, the happy laughter of children walking past, laughter that seemed out of place in the atmosphere of the room.
A road leads directly past this house. In this part of town all the houses are built like this, snuggly against one anither and so close to the road that they form a wall along the narrow pavement. A cherry tree can be seen through the window. It stands on a small strip of grass between the road and the pavement, its leafy branches shading the house so well that the occupants rarely need to lower the blinds, though the afternoon sun shines mercilessly on this side of the building. The blinds in this window are drawn last of all, in a futile attempt to hold back the heat when the summer outside is so sweltering, so oppresive that it penetrates everything. The branches are heavy with cherries – dark-red, juciy globes, ripe and ready to be plucked. Will anyone pick them this summer, preserve them in syrup, organise the jars in rows on the shelves in the pantry behind the kitchen?
A moment longer after he sat down, then his head and body worked together.The sturdy barrel of the pistol was placed squarely beneath his jaw; at such an angle that the bullet would go right through his skull and not just injure his face, leaving him alive but in pain. The pistol was loaded, his hand wasnt trembling in the slightest, his body was steady and prepared. With one exception, his head always had perfect control over his hand and pistol.
A shot, and before that thought: hell is here. Right now.
This novel has started off with a bang and something I literally can’t put down! I love the international flavour in this novel and features the main detective Anna Fekete returning to her homeland. The author weaves such beautiful descriptions into a hard, gritty crime novel and isn’t afraid to tackle tough topical issues. I can’t wait to find out how it ends!
About the author:
Kati Hiekkapelto was born in 1970 in Oulu, Finland. Kati worked as a local private detective between 1979 and 1982, and solved many serious crimes committed by her neighbours. By the age of twelve she had read all Agatha Christie’s novels, and was sure that her mother is going to poison her. Today Kati is an international crime writer, punk singer and performance artist. Her books Kolibri (The Hummingbird) was published in Finland by Otava in 2013 and Suojattomat (The Defenceless) in 2014. To date, they have been translated into seven languages. The Hummingbird was shortlisted for the Petrona Award in the UK in 2015 and The Defenceless won the prize for the best Finnish Crime Novel of the Year 2014. The Defenceless was also one of the top ten bestselling books in Finland last year, across all genres.She lives and writes in her 200-year-old farmhouse in Hailuoto, an island in the Gulf of Bothnia, North Finland. In her free time she rehearses with her band, runs, hunts, picks berries and mushrooms, and gardens. During long, dark winter months she chops wood to heat her house, shovels snow and skis. Writing seems fairly easy, after all that.
With thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my advanced review copy.
To buy this book on Amazon just click here
Don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on this mammoth tour!