AN INTERESTING FINNISH TO THE YEAR

Christmas is almost upon us and I can’t believe how quickly the year has gone.  Maybe it’s an age thing.  I’ve been busy working on Malice in Malmö, which I hope to bring out in April/May next year.  And last month both A Malmö Midwinter and Menace in Malmö came out as paperbacks through McNidder & Grace.

This year I’ve been over to Sweden a number of times.  My last trip in October also included a visit to Finland and the beautiful city of Helsinki.  Not that the weather was very welcoming as I was there during the backend of one of the hurricanes – it was extremely wet, windy and very cold. However, that gave us an excuse to dive into the city’s wonderful Art Nouveau cafés for the world’s most incredible cakes.  Useful research, as that’s exactly what Anita does when she goes to Helsinki in the search for information and clues in her latest murder case (Malice).

The city is similar in many ways to Stockholm as you can’t escape the influence of the sea.  And there is some extraordinary architecture – from the National Romanticism style of the Central Station to the Modernism of Alvar Aalto’s Finlandia Hall.  In the middle of it all is the shining white Helsinki cathedral, its great steps leading down to the stately Senate Square and the statue of Alexander II of Russia.  The statue is a reminder that Finland was a Russian Grand Duchy for a hundred years before winning its freedom in 1917.  December 6th was the hundredth anniversary of Finnish independence.  The Norwegian father of one of my aunts lived in Helsinki as a young boy and remembered seeing mounted Cossacks riding up the cathedral steps.  Indeed, you can see Russian influence everywhere including the impressive Uspenski Cathedral.   What is less obvious is Sweden’s long association with the country.  It’s these connections that brought me to Helsinki.  Finland was under the control of Sweden for five hundred years and the city of Helsinki was founded by the Swedish King Gustav Vasa.  The Swedish influence is now more linguistic and there is still a Swedish Theatre at the top end of the elegant and fashionable Esplanadi.   (By the way, they do a lovely cheap meal there.)  But it is a more modern connection with Sweden that brings Anita to this fascinating city.

All will be revealed next year.  Until then I hope that all my readers enjoy the festive season and that the world will see more goodwill in the coming year than has been in evidence for much of 2017.