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Man Who Died Kindle Edition
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|Length: 300 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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According to the author's acknowledgements, he's written several dark novels and decided to experiment with something a little lighter -- and he does an excellent job. This is the story of a mushroom exporter who finds out from his doctor that he's been poisoned and only has a short time to live. When he goes home to tell his wife he finds her cheating with one of their employees.
Instead of confronting them our protagonist decides to exact some revenge, but first he needs to figure a few things out. Is it his wife, the great cook, who has poisoned him? Who is helping her? Are his employees in on it? Does it have anything to do with the thuggish but well equipped competitors who've been trying to intimidate him?
This novel is funny but also intriguing, as he stumbles from one misadventure to another, his internal dialogue quite entertaining
The Man Who Died has an intriguing start when Jaakko, our main character, is told by his doctor that he is dying. Someone has been poisoning him over a period of time and the doctor doesn’t know how long he will live for, but it won’t be for long. So Jaakko sets about finding out who is trying to kill him, he wants to solve his own murder.
Despite being in the process of dying, Jaakko showed great determination as well as an awful lot of luck, perhaps a little bit too much luck, but hey, he is dying so he deserves it! The Man Who Died was really a great read, fantastically translated by David Hackston, it reads incredibly well. It really is something different and something special.
Thank you to the publisher Orenda Books for a copy of The Man Who Died, I was under no obligation to review and all thoughts are my own.
I picked this up because I love reading things from foreign authors, and I enjoy seeing how different cultures approach certain books. This was a little hit or miss for me. While I enjoyed it, there were times I considered just setting it down and walking away as a DNF. It’s definitely not a thriller in the sort of page-turners that I’m used to, and it dragged a lot in some places. All in all, it was an okay read. I liked that Jaakko was just an ordinary person, which lent an interesting perspective to the story. The things that happened to him, though, were extraordinary, and a bit too much so to be believable, which made it hard for me to read. I might recommend this to someone who enjoys dark humor and something maybe more literary, as if you’re going in expecting an American thriller, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
What I Liked:
- The writing style is flowy and poetic, sometimes bordering on purple prose, but I liked the unique descriptions and felt many descriptions were written beautifully.
- Nothing is quite what you expect, and an otherwise mundane life becomes a mysterious roller coaster ride. Jaakko thinks he has it solved right from the start, so of course I expected him to be wrong, and in my smugness, I was like, nope, I’ve got this one solved. We were both wrong.
- Tuomainen has a wonderful sense of dark humor that, while overdone in a few places, I found I really liked. It’s subtle and not at all in your face, but there were quite a few tongue-in-cheek or morbidly ironic moments that I enjoyed.
- The Man Who Died raises important questions about life and death, but not in an obnoxious, in-your-face sort of way. A lot of these questions are raised with dark humor, which I thought was a different way to do it, rather than on-the-button philosophical musings from the character.
- The main character, Jaakko, comes across as very emotionless and cold; we’re told he feels X, Y, or Z, but he never actually shows it or describes reacting to anything, leaving the character feeling a bit monotone. The whole book feels very emotionless, even though a lot of things happen that should justifiably be very emotional in different ways, so I never really felt like I connected to the book fully.
- Time and time again, Jaakko’s actions make no sense, and I just find myself shaking my head wondering why. There’s no explanation for the illogical things he does. It’s not a facet of his character, even. He just … does them?
- Actually, none of the character’s motives really make sense, and they act in a way that forces the plot forward but which lacks motives and reasoning. But why, you might ask, would a character take such wild risks or act in such an unseemly manner? Because the plot needs them to, I suppose.
- If Jaakko mentions how fat he is one more time, I swear … I get it. He’s 37, not 18 anymore. He’s put on weight. Is this really the most pressing thing he has to harp on? A couple mentions of it would be fine, throw in a joke or two. It’s all good. But it’s mentioned every chapter, often multiple times in a chapter, ad nauseum, and I’m picturing this guy as, like, 15 pounds overweight, and I have no idea if that’s accurate, but it makes his whining even more unbearable.
- As much as I like the descriptions, at times it becomes obvious that it’s a translation because they don’t always work or make sense.