Friday, January 8, 2016
Review of To Steal Her Love by Matti Joensuu (EuroCrime, 2008; Finnish 1993)
To Steal Her Love is a police procedural set in Helsinki, though not a mystery in that the reader knows the culprit from the start. Indeed, Joensuu’s narrative is divided into two strands. The first charts the half-real, half-fantasist world of Tweety, a young man obsessed with beautiful women, but who is unable to approach them, instead breaking into their homes in the middle of the night to watch them sleep. When he’s not doing that he’s hiding from his domineering mother, working as a cobbler, or helping his brothers to rob banks. The second strand follows the home life and work of Detective Sergeant Timo Harjunpää of Helsinki’s violent crimes unit. Harjunpää is a stoic cop who grinds out results, and is torn between two women. Both strands are very nicely written and interwoven. Joensuu has an eye for characters and how they’re bound together in awkward relationships and conflicts, as well as the institutional politics and personal power games of the police (he was a serving police officer for many years). While the narrative seems to drift along and seems quite sedate, there’s actually an awful lot going on within the strands and subplots (some of which are not resolved). The result is a nicely written, layered tale that tells a compelling and engaging story.