The Stone Murders, to my knowledge the first book by Finnish writer Matti Joensuu published in English, has been expertly translated by Raili Taylor. Joensuu writes police procedurals featuring detective Harjunpaa. His books are written in a spare, austere language which sometimes feels a little stiff.
The Stone Murders refer to just that – first one and then another murder in Helsinki where the victims are killed by stones. Very soon the police and detective Harjunpaa zooms in on youths hanging around in the area where the murders have been committed. Harjunpaa himself learns firsthand what it means to be surrounded by and harassed by rioting, pleasure seeking and teenagers totally lacking respect even for the police.
As readers, we know more than the police, and also follow two youngsters, both living sad – terrifying is perhaps a better description – lives, running away and getting drunk when they can, and getting into trouble more or less because they can and because it is something to do. We know they are the murderers and we know why. But will the police find then?
I found the book to be very interesting, not only for the mystery but also because it provides a somewhat shocking perspective on Finland’s youth problem (it may not be all that different in Germany, the UK and the US, by the way). The book really tells a shocking tale, not only of brutal murders but also of a segment of a generation with seemingly no future. Even so, the story ends on a note of hope. The Stone Murders is a good book I am happy to recommend!