Posted in Fiction

Helsinki Noir – Dark, Hard Hitting Crime Fiction from Finland

helsinki noirHelsinki Noir, edited by James Thompson (2014, Akashic Books) $15.95, ISBN: 9781617752414

Recommended for ages 18+

When I came across the Belfast Noir e-galley on Edelweiss, I also saw Helsinki Noir, from Akashic’s Noir series. Knowing that there’s a huge interest in Scandinavian noir, particularly thanks to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I gave it a shot. Never let it be said I don’t investigate literary trends!

Whoa. Where Belfast Noir was gritty with a touch of morbid Irish humor, Helsinki Noir is brutal, and often bleak. The stories are hard-hitting, often vicious, and leave you feeling wounded when you’re done. Crime fans, gird yourselves – these 14 stories take no prisoners. Split into three parts: Deep Cuts, Broken Blades, and Winds of Violence, each author seeks to peel back the bright surface of Helsinki’s streets to show readers a darker reflection of a city we often hear only the best of: their strong economy, their health care, their low crime rate.

As with Belfast Noir, shelve this with the grown-up books – this one’s not for younger readers. But by all means, shelve it, and look at more of Akashic’s Noir series. Mystery and true crime readers will appreciate the styles from all over the world, and embrace the darkness that every culture shares – no matter how hard they try to hide it.

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Belfast Noir – Gritty, dark stories from the Emerald Isle

belfast noirBelfast Noir, edited by Adrian McKinty & Stuart Neville (2014, Akashic Books) $15.95, ISBN: 9781617752919

Recommended for ages 18+

Belfast Noir is one of the latest in Akashic Books’ Noir series, spotlighting different cities across the globe. I hadn’t read a good noir story in a while, and I’m always interested in reading a good Irish author, so why not pick up an anthology of Irish noir?

This was my first entrée into Askashic’s noir series, and I was blown away with what I read. The stories, all by Irish writers, all take place in the city of Belfast – a city with a lot of history. That history, particularly the time known as “The Troubles” (the ethnic and nationalist conflict), finds its place here in Belfast Noir, as do other gritty crime stories. Many stories, while dark, are infused with the dark Irish humor I adore. There are 14 short stories in this anthology, including a story from Lee Child, who you may know from the Jack Reacher stories, or his work with Douglas Preston.

This is a great anthology of modern-day noir. The stories are gritty, exploring topics including drug use, brutality, death, and weapons-running. I wouldn’t suggest these for anyone younger than 18, but I do highly suggest them for any adult collection.