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My First Murder (The Maria Kallio Series Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Leena Lehtolainen , Owen Witesman
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (234 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Twenty-three-year-old law student Maria Kallio is recruited for a temporary position at the Helsinki police department. Sweet-faced but tough and hot-tempered, Maria faces pushback from her new squad – so when a young playboy is murdered at his family’s summer villa, the new detective is out to prove herself.

Found floating facedown at the water’s edge after a night of partying, Tommi Pelatonen appears to have been murdered by one of his closest friends – but why? As Maria discovers, bitter passion and jealousy seethe under the placid surface of the group’s privileged, carefree lifestyle. As Maria uncovers the victim’s unsavory secrets, motives for all seven suspects come to light. Now it’s up to her to untangle the clues before the killer strikes again.

The first book in Leena Lehtolainen’s international bestselling Nordic crime series starring Detective Maria Kallio, My First Murder serves up murder with a slice of life in the Finnish upper crust.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First published in 1993, this solid first in a mystery series from Lehtolainen, billed as “Finland’s bestselling female crime author,” introduces 23-year-old Sgt. Maria Kallio, of Helsinki’s Violent Crime Unit. Kallio’s initial low-level cases and paper-pushing lead her to begin law school, but boredom with her studies prompts her to return to the force for a six-month stint as a substitute officer. Her provisional status and sexist male colleagues complicate her first homicide inquiry, into the death of singer Tommi Peltonen, the leader of a quartet, who appears to have drowned in the sea off his parents’ summer house, though a blow to the head could have been a contributing factor. Peltonen was organizing a summer musical event for a double quartet, whose surviving members become the obvious suspects. The author does a good job integrating her dogged detective’s inner life with the murder inquiry. (Dec. 2012)


“Leena Lehtolainen has a winner with her debut thriller (My First Murder, Book 1 in Maria Kallio series). Detective Maria Kallio deserves a place alongside literature’s best tough but vulnerable detectives.” Mystery Scene Magazine

“It has taken 20 years for the highly-regarded Leena Lehtolainen's first Maria Kallio novel to be translated from Finnish, so plaudits to Amazon Crossing (an American imprint) for allowing English-language readers to experience her work, and to Owen Witesman for a smooth translation” – Eurocrime.Co.Uk

Product Details

  • File Size: 1409 KB
  • Print Length: 257 pages
  • Publisher: AmazonCrossingEnglish (December 11, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,936 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was very excited when I first heard about this author. Like so many other people I have been thrilled with the recent translation of so many of the Scandinavian authors. With the exception of a few books by writers like Peter Hoeg or Henning Mankell I hadn't been able to get my Scandi-fix until the last couple years.

I had noticed that there was a gap on the shelf for Finnish authors. I snapped up this first of the Maria Kallio series and started reading before I had even left the post office parking lot. The first couple of pages (no spoiler here) were a humorous description of a hangover that had me laughing out loud.

After that I dumped the rest of my errands and headed home to dig in.

Wellllll.... I didn't find the rest of the book lived up to the prologue.

Here is what I mean: the writing seemed wooden and strangely dated (and not just back to 1993, the time when it was initially published in Finland). The phraseology was something you'd find in the head of Sam Spade, not a 20-something law student in 1993. Or maybe I'm wrong-- maybe everyone in Finland in 1993 spoke like they had just tumbled out of a Dash Hammett book from the 1930s.

The reason this book got 4 rather than 3 stars out of me was because of the fascinating backdrop of Finland and Finnish life.

Firstly-- everyone appears to know everyone else in Finland (hey, it's a country of only 5.4 million, I guess it's possible)

Secondly-- the fact that everyone gets such whopping vacations over there is something I've known for a while. What was startling was the fact that they might have to hire part-time police officers to cover the vacation breaks. I worked as a prosecutor. If you could get a day off you were some kind of miracle worker.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Have Some Liver Casserole and We'll Go Play Kyykka October 9, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Translated books bring unique difficulties. What is the author's real voice? How much is the translator's voice? Was a sentence supposed to be literal or ironic? In addition, the book is written in first person, another difficulty, and the narrator doles out information in an odd manner. Bits of relevant clues appear in retrospect or are denied to the reader altogether.

The cover of the book calls it a "thriller," which it is not. The murder mystery can be solved before the ending and is the result of patient fact-finding rather than moments of danger. In fact, the murder case seems incidental. This is really a trying-to-come-of-age novel about the 20-somethings of Finland. I found the non-mystery elements quite interesting and enjoyable.

Seeing how the youth of Finland feel their way to adulthood through education, required military/civic service, massive student debt, and existential questions was diverting. Contrary to my expectations, Finnish society seems very chauvanistic. The food sounds abominable -- the police station cafeteria serves liver casserole, vegetable soup in milk broth, and rice filling baked in a rye crust. Maybe it sounded better in Finnish and translated horribly.

There are some places that footnotes or explanations for English-speakers would be helpful. A game called "kyykka" was mentioned a number of times. I finally looked it up. Kyykka is a traditional Finnish game like skittles or lawn bowling. It nearly died out in all but remote villages, but has made a revival, especially among university students who enjoy flinging a board across gravel or ice at the opponents' standing wooden cylinders.

If I were to read another book in this series, it would be to see if Maria, the young detective, matures, sets goals, or even takes the giant step of owning a cat.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Part-Time Policewoman December 2, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am no great expert in Finno-Scandinavian crime fiction. I've seen most of the Wallander TV series starring Kenneth Branagh (bleak and despairing, but highly recommended), and I've read one of the source novels. Other than that, I'm only familiar with one other Nordic police procedural, and this series debut from Finland. There seem to be some common strands, though, that are in stark counterpoise to the Anglo-American traditions. Most notably, murders are regarded by the police with horror and repugnance, rather than jaded acceptance (accompanied by stiff upper lips or Lennie Briscoe-style quips). They are evidently comparatively rare enough in these northern countries to still be viewed as shockingly disturbing breaches of the social order, to the point where they're almost unfathomable when outside the context of drunken brawling or gang violence. Based on the way the officers react in these books, I am sometimes reminded of the line from the movie "Demolition Man": "We're the police! We're not trained to handle this sort of violence!"

Secondarily, the protagonists spend a lot of time thinking about how they hate their jobs, yearning for the day they can quit. That's markedly true of this book's heroine, who in some ways is almost a rookie and yet already wants out. Thirdly, none of these novels have much in the way of the Angry Captain shouting at the detectives to make arrests, or the Schmoozing Insider telling them that the commissioner wants this case closed quickly and quietly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I was delightfully surprised!
I bought this book out of sheer boredom. I love to read and was impatient for the new books from several of my regular authors to be released. Read more
Published 9 days ago by KATHLEEN HANEY
4.0 out of 5 stars Good start
I liked all the descriptions of Finnish musical & choir experience. She was an interesting point of view character as a starting point for the series.
Published 18 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars My First Murder
Initially it was difficult to keep all the characters straight because the names were so similar. I appreciated the description of the cast of characters at the end of the book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Grateful Buyer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A nice book. Easy read after a long time of absence from book reading
Published 1 month ago by KELIRIS NIKOS
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
ok. After awhile, it seemed somewhat trite. haven't finished it.
Published 1 month ago by D. J.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Incredible ;)
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting murder mystery
This didn't end how I expected it to end which was nice. I didn't find it as predictable as I thought it would be. This was a great fast read and I liked the Finland back ground
Published 2 months ago by Jennifer Brooks
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good read
Published 2 months ago by cecil
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Didn't like
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
liked it had trouble putting it down reaaly wanted to keep reading
Published 2 months ago by Laurie washburn
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More About the Author

Leena Lehtolainen is Finland's bestselling female crime author - all of Lehtolainen's crime novels have reached the top ten of the Finnish bestseller list. Lehtolainen first reached international acclaim for her hit detective series starring Maria Kallio, which she began with My First Murder in 1993. Her distinctively down-to-earth heroine brought a woman's perspective to the male-dominated detective genre. The twelfth book in the series, Rautakolmio (Iron Triangle), was published in Finland in August 2013. In 2009 Lehtolainen started a trilogy of tongue-in-cheek international thrillers starring Hilja Ilveskero, a female bodyguard.

In a mere twenty years, Lehtolainen has become a classic of Nordic crime literature. She's been called "Finland's answer to Henning Mankel" (Brigitte), while her Maria Kallio series has been ascribed "cult status" (Bunte). Lehtolainen has twice won the Finnish Whodunit Society's annual prize for the best Finnish crime novel (1997, 1998) and has been nominated for the prestigious Glass Key award for the best Nordic crime novel (2003). Readers as well as critics around the world have discovered Lehtolainen's detective novels--to date, her titles have sold over 2 million copies in 29 languages including German, French, Italian, Russian, Czech, Dutch, Hebrew, and Chinese, and the Kallio series has been adapted for television.

In addition to her career as a crime writer, Lehtolainen has worked as a literary researcher, columnist, and critic. In her free time, she enjoys all kinds of music from 1970s punk to Bach--just like Maria Kallio. Lehtolainen currently lives in Finland with her husband and two sons. Besides writing, she is fond of classical singing, her beloved cats, and--her greatest passion---figure skating.

Learn more about Leena Lehtolainen here:

Photo Credit: Charlotta Boucht

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