Jarkko Sipila is a Finnish journalist / author, and one of the most read crime fiction authors in Finland. He is 45 years old. He has been reporting Finnish crime news for MTV3 TV News and the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper for almost 20 years. He has written 11 crime novels. Some of his books have been translated into German, but this is the first translated into English. Against the Wall (Finnish title Vasten seinää) – the 2009 Winner of the Best Finnish Crime Novel – has been translated excellently by Peter Ylitalo Leppa. The language used flows nicely and underscores the style of the novel. The sentences are short and to the point.
Sipila’s style is somewhat noir and hard boiled. His writing is direct with little commentary. He has good knowledge about modern police methods and the stresses of police work.
The main character in Sipila’s books is Lieutenant Detective Kari Takamaki. He is the head of the Helsinki Police Violent Crimes Unit. He is professional and team oriented in his work. In this book, most of the police work is done by on e of his team members, the undercover policeman Suhonen, who goes undercover using the name Suikkanen and posing as a hardened criminal.
The action in the book starts immediately. A man is killed by a hitman. Later, in an abandoned house in Northern Helsinki, his dead body is found in the garage by the police. Detective Lieutenant Kari Takamäki’s homicide team gets the case from a snitch that reports it to Suhonen. The case has all the markings of a professional hit. Even so, some traces are found at the murder site. And clearly the police informant knows more than he has told the police.
The book describes a hard and tough underworld in Finland, with organized crime, gangs, and connections to the Russian underground. The story moves in a world of gangsters, prisons, snitches, corrupt officials, undercover police and hardworking detectives.
Against the Wall is very well plotted. It is written is a slow-moving and direct style. Pieces of the puzzle and the larger plot become visible gradually, and this serves to build the excitement towards a plausible and interesting ending. As well, the characters, while not being fully drawn, are realistic and very interesting. I enjoyed reading it, and strongly recommend it.