By Antti Tuomainen; translated by David Hackston; reviewed by Jeannette Hartman
Former rally car driver Timo Tarvainen is on his way to a spectacular, self-inflicted death by driving himself into a rock wall, when he and his car are “engulfed by a huge flash of light, followed by a shadow just as immense; light and shadow both arriving vertically from above.”
A meteor has fallen from the sky into the passenger seat of his car. He has survived imminent death. He takes it as a sign.
He also believes that he is the owner of the meteor by virtue of the circumstances. When it is believed that the meteor is made of rare and valuable metals, Tarvainen knows that he’s half-way to funding the renewal of his career as a rally sport driver.
However, he is not the only person seeking profit from the meteor in the small town of Hurmevaara, some 20 kilometers west of the Russian border.
Jokinen, a grocer with shady product acquisition methods, sees it as an opportunity to avoid bankruptcy. Räystäinen, a mechanic and owner of the village gym, is frequently seen talking to Jokinen since the meteor arrived in town. Grigori and Leonid, two thugs from Russia whom Tarvainen has invited to town so he can persuade them to invest in his return to rally car racing, see an opportunity to gain a million euros instead of spending them. Lastly, Karoliina, who tends the bar at the Golden Moon, doesn’t care who owns it as long as she can cash it in and get out of Hurmevaara.
The only person who truly wants to see it safely given to researchers in England is Pastor Joel Huhta. He has bigger worries: his beloved wife Krista has announced she’s pregnant. He knows that he could not possibly be the father because of a wound he suffered fighting in Afghanistan. Not only does Joel doubt his wife’s faithfulness, he’s also increasingly doubtful of God’s.
But he is determined that the meteor will not go missing on his watch.
This book combines all the darkness of Finland’s cold climate and long nights with the comedy of diverse people lusting after a meteor they hardly have the sophistication or connections to sell and capitalize on.
Author Antti Tuomainen has done a wonderful job of creating fun, eccentric characters. Pastor Joel is a good man who learns from Leonid the thug that he can be a great father to a child he didn’t biologically create.
Despite being repeatedly underestimated by the meteor’s potential thieves, the pastor comes out an unlikely hero in this noir comedy.
About the Author: Antti Tuomainen (1971 – )
Before his success as a suspense writer, Antti Tuomainen was an advertising copywriter. He made his literary debut in 2011 and now writes short stories and magazine articles as well as novels. He is noted for blending suspense, action and ark humor.
His most recent book is THE RABBIT FACTOR (2021) about an insurance company mathematician whose orderly life is turned upside down when he loses his job and inherits an adventure park, its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems, which include large loans from criminal lenders.
He lives in Helsinki with his wife.