Cruel Is the Night

Karo Hämäläinen's Cruel Is the Night opens with multiple cell phones ringing in an apartment, but no one is answering.

Earlier that day, Mikko and his wife, Veera, arrive in London from Helsinki to visit their old high school friend Robert and his wife, Elise. Mikko has brought a deadly gift for his host, while Veera is carrying a secret about Robert. Elise also has a secret she's hiding from everyone--except for one person in the room. With hidden agendas and murderous intentions, will they all survive the evening?

Acclaimed Finnish author Hämäläinen makes his U.S. debut with this well-paced thriller, which unfolds over dinner one night. Chapters alternate among the lead characters' points of view, revealing how they really feel about one another, even as they maintain a veneer of civility. As the meal progresses and the alcohol flows, it becomes clear the built-up tensions will result in an explosion.

Before he gets to dessert, Hämäläinen raises thought-provoking questions and makes relevant political commentary. When Mikko, who exposes corruption as a financial investigative journalist, is asked why he doesn't go into politics to effect positive change, he replies that even politicians with good intentions have to lie. Veera asks, "Isn't the good more important than the true?" Mikko maintains that making laws is just "an auction with everyone yelling offers and counteroffers."

Yes, this book is cynical, but it's a dark farce, and crime-fiction readers shouldn't think twice about accepting Hämäläinen's invitation to this lethal dinner. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

Powered by: Xtenit