Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My First Murder by Leena Lehtolainen

Detective Maria Kallio is facing her first murder investigation.  Only twenty-three, she is not sure yet what she wants from a career.  She started as a police officer, got bored and went to study law, then was unsure about that path and has taken a six-month job as a substitute officer when another member of the force goes out on medical leave.  Being young and a woman in a male-dominated workplace is not easy; being brought in as a lead detective makes her even less popular.

She is worried when she is assigned to a murder case.  Her concerns deepen when she realises who the victim was. Tommi Peltonen was a golden boy.  Handsome and outgoing, he always was the leader in any group, and the group he was most often with was a formal chorus at his university.  Although he had already graduated, he remained in the group and they were thrilled to have him stay.  Maria had been on the fringes of this group in her university days; one of her roommates had been in the chorus and she socialized with the group.  She had known Tommi.  She tries to beg off, but there is no one else to take the case.

At first glance, it appears that Tommi's death may have been an accident.  The chorus had gone with him to his parent's summer house, where they could rehearse for an upcoming job.  Tommi is found floating in the water.  At first it appeared he may have drowned, but further investigation reveals that he was hit on the head with an axe before entering the water. 

All the suspects are right there, and all are known to Maria.  She must overcome her hesitation to figure who in this tight-knit group would have killed their leader.  As she investigates Tommi's life, surprising facts start to emerge that form motives for several of the group.  Can Maria bring the case to a successful conclusion?

This book is recommended for mystery readers.  This is the first in Leena Lehtolainen's Maria Kallio series; a series that has been adapted as a series on Finnish television.  American readers will be interested in reading how criminal investigation varies in other countries.  The whole ambiance of the culture and how crime is viewed is different from the American police culture and it is fascinating to see another way of working through a criminal investigation.

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