I subscribe to a book service offered by Book Ninjas – details of which you can find here. Every month they send me a “pre-loved” book in good condition which has been published by an independent press. I have indicated genres which I wouldn’t usually read but otherwise the choice of book is up to them. I have had some great choices this way and some books that I definitely wouldn’t have chosen for myself. Recently I was sent The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen and translated by David Hackston. I thought this was a crime novel but as it is set in Finland I put it aside for this challenge.
The book definitely has a crime element but it is darker and also funnier than that. It is difficult to assign a genre to it. The book is set in a small Finnish town and its main character Jaakko runs a mushroom picking and exporting business. As the book opens he has just been to the doctor and discovered that he is going to die because he has been poisoned. He then returns home to tell his wife only to find her having sex with one of their employees. The book then consists of Jaakko’s attempts to find out who has killed him, remove his wife from her position of power in the business and try and save his business from new competitors.
The book is full of the wonders of the Finnish landscape and a bit, though thankfully not too much, about mushroom farming. Jaakko engages with his new competitors with grim but funny results. The story becomes more and more complex as the author introduces a Japanese element (apparently they like exotic mushrooms). Throughout the whole book Jaakko has the promise of death hanging over him and this affects his actions and also how he feels.
I really enjoyed this book. I thought that it was darkly funny and it was an interesting look at Finland and mushroom farming, both of which were new to me.