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Monday, 24 June 2013

Review: The Healer, Antti Tuomainen (Finland)

Title: The Healer
Author: Antti Tuomainen
Translator: Lola Rogers
Publication: 2013/New York, Henry Holt and Company, LLC
Original Publication: 2010/Helsinki, Helsinki-Kirirat, “Parantaja”
ISBN #: 978-0-8050-9554-8
# of pages: 211
Discovered on a blog earlier this year that I neglected to write down
Read in paper format
Also available in e-book and audio book formats
Link to author’s website:

Johanna Lehtinen, investigative reporter, had been working on a serial killer story when she goes missing two days before Christmas. Her poet husband Tapani is immediately concerned because they keep in touch throughout each day via text and email and he has not heard anything from her for some time. He begins his search at her newspaper’s office and is soon put off by her managing editor’s blasé attitude.
But how can anyone be too concerned about one missing woman in the midst of the torrential rain that has been lashing Helsinki for weeks, the rain that is only one sign of the effects of climate change? Climate change has become a truly apocalyptic event, resulting in wars in the EU, never-ending forest fires in the Amazon and hundreds of millions of climate refugees worldwide, fleeing their homelands and heading north. Civil society has collapsed in Finland, anarchy rules and chief inspector Harri Jaatinen of the violent crimes unit, an officer who still cares, struggles to stay ahead of the dozens of daily incoming reports of violence and missing people, leaving him no time to investigate any of them.  He offers little hope to Tapani that they will get to his wife’s case in the near future.
Tapani decides to find his wife on his own, with some tips from Jaatinen and the support of taxi driver Hamid. Johanna’s character and her strong connection with Tapani are revealed through his flashbacks to happier times.
This was a very intriguing book. Tapani’s search leads him to unexpected places and revelations but for me, it was also the background of climate change that was fascinating. How does one man stay focused on finding his wife when society as we know it is collapsing around him? Never before had I considered the societal effect of climate change and this book creates one possible new world. What makes it scary is that this is a very believable new world.  The climate change theme is an integral part of the story line and yet does not turn the mystery into science fiction. “…fear, building up moment by moment…” keeps you reading to the very end.    

Rating: (°o°)!         Stayed awake all night to find out what happened!
Notable sentence: “Helsinki had finally become an international city. But this wasn’t how we had imagined it.”

Tuomainen was an award-winning ad copywriter in Helsinki until 2007 when he realized his long-time dream to become a writer.  With this book, he wanted to paint a picture of what Helinski would be like under the predictions of the negative results of climate change. He chose a poet as narrator so he could use lyrical and precise language where every word counts. His previous two books are “A Killer, I Wish” and “My Brother’s Keeper”. His fourth book is due out in Finland this year.


  1. Debra: It sounds unique but I think I will pass. I am interested in past and present crime fiction but not as excited about future mysteries.

  2. The really scary part, Bill, is it feels very much like the present!!! I'm not keen on science fiction or futuristic novels either and this one didn't come across that way.

  3. This is a very unusual book. It was nice to read something a bit different.

  4. Hi Sarah - I just took a look at your review and yes, it's the atmosphere and writing that hold the reader's attention, isn't it.

  5. Oooh, this looks intriguing - just my cup of tea, I think...

    1. I'm starting to like these pre- and post-apocalyptic mysteries!! Have you read "The Last Policeman" by Ben H. Winters? Another goodie....have to get a review done.