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According to the archives of the Soviet Special Forces (in which he once served), Viktor Kärppä has "the look of a killer." Except he really isn't one, notwithstanding his ability to sever a man's windpipe. Despite his messy past, Kärppä now has an orderly life as an entrepreneur in Helsinki. His girlfriend Marja, an academic, also prefers a peaceful existence.
Kärppä helps members of the downtrodden Ingrian community—ethnic Finns emigrating from Russia—adjust to their new surroundings. Thus his dream of tranquility is regularly thwarted by Finns and Russians on both sides of the law who know too much about him.
When he agrees to find an antique dealer's missing wife, Kärppä discovers the woman is the sister of a notorious gangster; so begins his descent into a criminal underworld replete with drug lords, former KGB operatives, and other heavies.
Suddenly nothing is as it was—not least with Marja, now aware that her man's line of work is unlikely to bode well for a healthy relationship . . .
Matti Rönkä's intelligent way with the crime genre reveals hidden worlds within Finland, wrapping a compelling plot around these dark places and inserting into them his hapless antihero, a tough guy yearning for a second chance.
Matti Rönkä is a Finnish TV journalist and novelist. He is the only Finn to have received the prestigious Glass Key Award for writers of Nordic crime fiction. He has anchored a daily news program since 2003, earning the nickname "Suomen ääni" ("Voice of Finland").