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My First Murder by Leena Lehtolainen
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My First Murder (original 1993; edition 2012)

by Leena Lehtolainen, Owen Witesman (Translator)

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127None95,215 (3.07)9
Member:cathyskye
Title:My First Murder
Authors:Leena Lehtolainen
Other authors:Owen Witesman (Translator)
Info:AmazonCrossing (2012), Paperback
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:*1/2
Tags:Mystery

Work details

My First Murder by Leena Lehtolainen (1993)

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
My very first thought for this review is that if you are the kind of person who is able to easily participate in gossip and life-chatter, you will enjoy this book. Otherwise, it's not anything you should think of picking up. There was a lot of reflection on the main character's past that had nothing at all to do with what was happening with the murder case and there were so many characters that there actually has to be a character chart at the back of the book. I applaud someone wanting to take a large group of people and make them suspects in a murder mystery, but there's no mystery if you can't figure out what is going on. I think the only thing I got out of this book was that I knew what the murder weapon was and how it was discovered. I read to the end and I know who is guilty, but I'm still not very sure how this all came to be, because of all of the extra reminiscing and irrelevant jumble that were the beefy portions of the book. If all of the unnecessary chatter was edited from the story, I would have to say this would be a very short book indeed, but might be a good mystery. ( )
  mirrani | Mar 9, 2014 |
Rating: 3* of five

The Publisher Says: Maria Kallio has just been assigned her first murder investigation. To prove to herself and her squad that she has what it takes to be a detective, she’ll have to solve the death of Tommi Peltonen. Found floating facedown at the water’s edge of his Helsinki villa, Tommi had invited his choir group to spend a weekend at his retreat. But beneath the choir’s seemingly tight-knit bonds seethed bitter passion and jealousy. As Maria sets out to determine the difference between friends and foes, she uncovers the victim’s unsavory past—and motives for all seven suspects. Now it’s up to her to untangle a complex set of clues before the killer strikes again.

The first book in Leena Lehtolainen’s bestselling Finnish crime series starring Detective Maria Kallio, My First Murder offers hard-boiled realism from a female perspective.

My Review: I gave in and read a Scandicrime book. It's a serviceable police procedural told in first person by thirtyish Maria Kallio, law student and relentlessly single female interloper in the world of career police detectives. She appears as a replacement for a broken-down cop who injured himself in the line of duty, and she rapidly worked her way up the chain of command because 1) she's a girl and b) she's tough as nails.

Now, as to the mystery part, I liked it fine but didn't love it. Some interesting characters were adequately developed. What made my eyebrows rise was the reportedness of the atmosphere in which Maria works. She tells us a wee bit, basically a log-line, about the other crimes she and her department are pursuing; not enough to make us care, more than enough to make us curious, and just enough to bring the sense of urgency about the main case of this book to a halt. Can't put this down to first-book-itis, either, since this author had her first book published when she was twelve!

So what was I left with? A sea of Finnish names, all of which look wrong to me, and locations I know nothing whatsoever about, and a sense of being slightly seasick as Tommi and Tomppa and Tiina and Tiiu and Riku and Antti all blended into a mass of UUUUUIIIIUUYYPPPPAAAA. Finnish, when spoken, raises my hackles with its sheer alienness. When written, it causes me distress because it's got nowhere for me to grab hold of anything to give it meaning to me. Plus everything seems to wear umlauts, those freaky-deaky fangmarks that make all previously comprehensible sounds turn into strangled moans.

It's free to borrow on your Kindle, and that's what I'd recommend you do. At $2.99, it's not a break-the-bank download, but see if you can hang with the sheer Finnishness before committing actual funds to it.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. ( )
  richardderus | Dec 1, 2013 |
I found this far too long. Too much unnecessary chatter that didn't add anything meaningful to the story. ( )
  Rayaowen | Nov 29, 2013 |
I like Scandinavian crime novels. The setting and the writing style enhance the genre, and the books that get translated into English are usually good. Of course, now so much is being published that I've also come across a few written and plotted just as sloppily as the worst mass market fiction produced here.

This is the first installment in a Finnish series by Leena Lehtolainen. In it, Maria Kallio is a reluctant homicide detective, having switched to policing partway through a law degree and contemplating returning to it. She's put in charge of what looks to be a fairly simple case when her immediate boss is off work and not due to return soon. Some members of a student choir group went off to spend a weekend together at a summer house and in the morning one of their number is found dead at the edge of the water. Somewhat differently than the usual Scandinavian crime novel, My First Murder is set up like a classic British detective story with a clear group of suspects gathered together in one place. While they do all return to Helsinki, the suspect pool is finite and Kallio is left to discover who the murderer is almost entirely on her own, which of course she does.

I'll confess right here that I find authors like [[Agatha Christie]] boring. I appreciate that they laid the building blocks for the modern crime novel, but I don't find the structure all that interesting. Lehtolainen does an adequate job and her protagonist is likable, if not always believable, but I doubt I'll read any more by her. Incidentally, this structure was used more successfully by another Scandinavian author,
Anne Holt, in 1222. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Jan 9, 2013 |
First Line: Riki woke up to a vicious call of nature.

It was supposed to be a fun weekend for the choir group at Tommi Peltonen's seaside Helsinki villa. Instead Tommi is found floating facedown in the water off the dock, a victim of what is soon determined to be murder. It is up to rookie detective Maria Kallio to focus on the choir members in an attempt to solve her very first murder case. It doesn't take long for her to realize that what on the surface appears to be a happy and close-knit group is really a collection of young people filled with bitterness, passion and jealousy. It will take a lot of digging for her to find the killer.

As much as I wanted to like this book, I simply could not. Too many things just did not add up. First, a rookie cop is put in charge of the murder investigation into the death of the son of a high-profile family. Yes, all her superiors are on some sort of leave or vacation, but why should that let the police put someone in charge who isn't even sure she wants to be a detective? One of Kallio's supervisors is a well-known drunk who often takes personal days to sleep off his latest bender. The other has taken vacation simply because he's sick and tired of doing all the drunk's work. This does not inspire much faith in East Helsinki's police force.

The pace of the book also drags quite a bit. There are several digressions while Kallio and the others are pulled away from the murder investigation to take care of other crimes. Although I know this happens in real life, these interruptions really impede the flow of the narrative-- to the point where I almost started shaking the book and telling the author to get a move on.

Maria Kallio talks a lot in the book. Too much of it is about her indecision over whether or not she should commit to a career in law enforcement. (Many times it sounds as though she thinks law enforcement is beneath her.) Once again I nearly began speaking to the book to tell Maria that, if she's so undecided, maybe she should resign and let someone else take over the investigation. I never really got any glimpses into her thought processes or how she was trying to solve the murder. By book's end it appeared that she just talked to all the choir members until she fell into the solution. Maria was a character who did not hold my interest-- and neither did any of the others.

All in all, I was very disappointed in this book. Even the Finnish setting was rather generic. Since it's the first book in a long-running series, I have to think that the books that follow show a great deal of improvement. However... I don't think I want to test this theory. ( )
  cathyskye | Dec 11, 2012 |
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Maria Kallio has just been assigned her first murder investigation. To prove to herself and her squad that she has what it takes to be a detective, she'll have to solve the death of Tommi Peltonen. Found floating facedown at the water's edge of his Helsinki villa, Tommi had invited his choir group to spend a weekend at his retreat. But beneath the choir's seemingly tight-knit bonds seethed bitter passion and jealousy. As Maria sets out to determine the difference between friends and foes, she uncovers the victim's unsavory past - and motives for all seven suspects. Now it's up to her to untangle a complex set of clues before the killer strikes again.… (more)

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