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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
As Red as Blood
by Salla Simukka
Age Range: 14+
Seventeen-year-old Lumikki, whose name means Snow White in Finnish, has a motto – the easiest way to get by in life is to interfere as little as possible. Lumikki is cool and dispassionate, her attitude concealing secrets from her past that continue to haunt her. She’s left home to attend art school 70 miles away and lives in a sparsely furnished apartment in Tampere.
When Lumikki stumbles upon 30,000 euros, in 500 washed out notes hanging up to dry in the school dark room, she is drawn into Finland’s murky criminal underworld. After receiving a desperate phone call from Elisa, a girl at her school, who along with two of her friends, Tuukka and Kasper had discovered a bag of blood-stained money in Elisa’s back garden, Lumikki finds herself caught up in an increasingly dangerous and tangled web of deception, corruption and murder.
Lumikki is a feisty and savvy protagonist who must navigate Tamere’s dark underbelly and outwit a master criminal when she unwittingly becomes a target of a ruthless killer.
This well-crafted novel by Finnish author Salla Simukka is the first volume in a stunning thriller trilogy that takes the reader on a compelling journey. The stark opening paragraph from the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, ‘Snow White’ provides a powerful narrative frame and the title of the book refers to a line in the story – lips, red as blood. Already the reader is in anticipation of what comes next and the first chapter has you hooked right from the start as a young Russian woman is shot as she tries to flee her pursuers. The fast-paced plot keeps the suspense tangible as it weaves between the present and episodes from Lumikki’s past.
Simukka’s writing is exceptionally atmospheric; Owen F. Witesman’s translation captures all the tension as the story evolves as well as the descriptive prose, particularly of the freezing, relentless Finnish winter, ‘where everyone appears prematurely grey’, which permeates every page.
As Red as Blood looks set to become the Young Adult equivalent to the Scandinavian thrillers of Nesbø or Larsson. As White as Snow, the second book in the series is published by Hot Key Books in March 2015.