Monday, February 6, 2017

As Red As Blood - Salla Simukka

Title: As Red As Blood (Book 1 in the As Red As Blood trilogy)
Author: Salla Simukka
Publisher: Crown Books (Random House), 2017 (Hardcover)
Length: 244 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Realistic Fiction, Thriller
Started: February 2, 2017
Finished: February 6, 2017

From the inside cover:

Lumikki Andersson has one rule: stay out of other people's business. She still bears the scars from the last time she made that mistake. But rules will break when Lumikki finds thousands of washed euro notes hung to dry in her school's darkroom and three of her classmates with blood on their hands. Literally.

Now deception and betrayal threaten Lumikki at every turn - not to mention the assassins who want her dead. At the centre of the chaos: Polar Bear, the mythical drug lord who despite hosting lavish parties has managed to remain anonymous. Caught in the crosshairs, Lumikki must bring the operation down. Or pay the ultimate price.

This series has received a fair bit of hype,  which makes sense considering it's a crime series from Finland, and the Nordic countries have been turning out some pretty doozy true-crime thrillers in recent years. Add in that this is young adult, so not quite as heavy as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for example.

Named after the Finnish Snow White, seventeen-year-old Lumikki lives alone away from her family as she studies at an arts high school. It becomes apparent that Lumikki is not your average teenage girl: she avoids wearing scents so no one will recognize her by smell, is on high alert at all times, and blends into the background so she's not easily noticed. When she enters her school's darkroom early in the morning looking for a quiet space and finds thousands of euros soaked in blood hanging to dry, she at first walks straight out the door, not wanting to get involved. When the money disappears and three of Lumikki's classmates discover she has seen them and knows of their involvement, she becomes wrapped up in a drug lord's dealings with a police informant, and soon discovers whose blood covered the money she found.

This story wasn't anything to write home about, the plot isn't overly shocking or novel. I did like Lumikki as a heroine, she can definitely take care of herself and she takes charge, and since there's no romance involved there's nothing really to distract her. I did find the Snow White references peppered throughout the book quite interesting in terms of the contrast of the innocent childhood stories versus the complete mess Lumikki finds herself tangled up in.

A good young adult introduction to Nordic crime fiction, but if you want something more gritty you're better off with the adult versions. The rest of the trilogy is already published in Europe and should be making its way to North America soon, and I will probably pick up the subsequent instalments because I did enjoy Lumikki as a character.

Thoughts on the cover:
Simple yet effective, and a good play on the title.

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