Review: The Man Who Died
The Man Who Died
Author: Antti Tuomainen
Translator: David Hackston
Publication: Orenda Book, October 10th 2017
Kindle Edition, 300 pages
Buy your copy here: Amazon
A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists.
The Man Who Died (Amazon | Goodreads) is the literary version of Fargo, a mystery filled with bizarre characters set against the backdrop of a relentless Finnish summer. Antti Tuomainen seamlessly blends a subtle combination of classic, no-nonsense Nordic noir with macabre humor punctuated with shocking staccatos of grim violence.
Jakko Kaunismaa was utterly endearing. After being made redundant, he and his wife found their true passion in exporting mushrooms from the forests of Finland to wealthy Japanese businessmen. His life is pleasant: he’s happily married to a beautiful woman and wonderful cook (he’s even gained the 27 kilos to prove it), they have a thriving business together, and he has a warm and cozy home in a picturesque Finnish town. However, unbeknownst to Jakko, someone has been slowly poisoning him and he has only a few days left to live. Once he finds out, his only order of business to discover who has murdered him before he actually dies.
“If you had only a day left, what would you do? And what if you had a week? A month? I haven’t thought about things like this. It seems I haven’t thought about very much at all. Something has woken me up.”
I had no idea that mushroom farming would be so fun or so dangerous. I wanted to read more. I kept turning the pages, not because of the thrilling ride, but because of the grim humor laced throughout the story. This book was quirky, grisly, and utterly ridiculous. The entire time I was reading, I kept thinking: how can mushroom farming be this thrilling?
“Death only comes round once in a lifetime, that much I realise, and maybe I should have put a bit more effort into it.”
Poison! Adultery! Mushrooms! Scandal! Murder! Swords! Ice Cream! It’s not often that you follow a living person through their desperate hunt to figure out who has murdered them and why. Jakko’s deadpan sensibility towards mortality was the caviar garnish on top of a complex and sumptuous dish of a story. And I, for one, can’t wait for you to dive in.
“…But let’s face it, I’ll only be murdered once.”
Drink pairing: A daredevil game of Russian roulette botanical cocktails. Will you end up with a Hemlock Hair Raiser, a Snake Venom Sazerac, quinine poisoning from your trusty G&T, or just a simple Tom Collins?
Grade: 4.5 Stars/ A
Buy your copy here: Amazon
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