Harri Nykanen (Nykänen) is an interesting and accomplished Finnish crime fiction writer, best known for his Raid series. Harri Nykanen, 57, who has written more than 30 books and won several prestigious awards, has just seen the first of his books translated into English and published by IceCold Crime, a small independent publisher specializing in Finnish crime fiction.
Raid and the Blackest Sheep features Raid, a legend in some circles – a man of few words, an ultra-tough, hard-boiled hit man who is fast, efficient and shoots straight. A series based on the Raid character has appeared on television in both Finland and select U.S. markets, and there has been a movie made about Raid as well. He is a cult figure of sorts in Finland.
Now Raid has hooked up with an ageing criminal named Nygren as his bodyguard and driver. The two of them are out on a strange tour. Nygren – a lifelong criminal with a somewhat distinguished career, a well-known and respected man in his line of work – is dying, and now he wants to set certain things straight. So the two honorable criminals set out in Nygren’s old, pristine Mercedes Benz on a strange and eventful journey up to the northernmost part of Finland, stopping here and there to dole out rewards, penance and punishment – whatever Nygren feels is due to the people they visit.
Their first stop is at a church. There they interrupt a sham preacher – who is fleecing his congregation for money. In the middle of his sermon, they inform the congregation of the preacher’s various sins over the years, rough him up a bit, and force him to pay back an old loan.
Nygren and Raid’s curious pilgrimage does not go unnoticed. Soon both cops and crooks are hard on their tails. Some crooks – old acquaintances of Nygren – believe he has a hidden stash of cash, and want to relieve him of it. And the cops cannot understand what the two men are up to, but suspect it can’t be anything but bad, so Detective Lieutenant Kempas wants the two men stopped, and sends his men out to hunt them down.
Harri Nykanen’s tale of this intriguing trek, which leaves a trail of wounded, dead and surprised, is delightful and original, and the plot is multi-layered and full of interesting twists and turns. The story is told in a laconic, quiet and somewhat subdued tone that I liked and though was very fitting to the tale of Nygren’s last journey. I enjoyed Raid and the Blackest Sheep, recommend it, and eagerly await the next installment in the series.
Praise for Harri Nykanen’s Raid series:
“Raid has a lot of the same quiet vengeance as the characters that Clint Eastwood creates on the silver screen. Both have the ability to make even murder seem justified.” – Länsi-Suomi
“Two honest criminals contemplate the meaning of life… Nykänen writes clever dialogue and his laconic humour is an enjoyment for every reader” – Aamulehti