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Showing 1-10 of 275 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 377 reviews
on April 28, 2016
I went into this book with no preconceived opinions as I've never read her before. I found the names hard to keep up with and kept a list. It was only at the end of the book that I discovered the glossary of names at the back. Shortcomings of ebooks. I was delighted to learn common endings of Finnish names - most ending in nin or nen. I guessed who done it about 5/8 of the way through; not bad. I felt myself wanting to read more to find out what happens. I didnt think I was going to like this book very much but after I finished it I really missed reading about the characters, the choir and others. The protagonist who was investigating her first murder seemed naive. She didn't seem a super sleuth; more like a struggling beginner with no real mentor. Having the book in my thoughts, the characters in my mind, and strong feelings of regret not to have more, must mean that I enjoyed it. I would like now to buy the future installments of Leena's Maria Kallio series. So yeah, I liked it a lot.
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on March 6, 2015
Like several other reviewers, I am a Scandie crime freak who jumped a a chance to read an offering from Finland -- something of an empty quarter in the teeming landscape of Nordic crime. And, like several other reviewers, I was underwhelmed, at least at first. Nobody, to begin with, seemed that much interested in the murder of the very attractive and sucessful son of a prominent family -- no screaming headlines, no senior police officials, no slamming shut of the borders, no MENACE. Instead, a rookie detective is assigned, the father clearly wants it to be an accident, and the friends of the victim move on with their lives with hardly a pause. Eventually, the detective does solve the crime, but there isn't much drama in the process.

Still and all, I liked it better by the time I finished than I did for the first fifty pages or so. The Finnish setting is definitely interesting -- peoples' attitudes are very different from American attitudes in some key ways, and so are the ways they live their lives. The food sounds, er, interesting too. And the detective sort of grew on me -- she is a pain, but she does have an inner life. Also, I wonder if a good deal of the problem with the book -- its overall flat tone -- isn't an issue of translation. At the end, I decided to download the next volume in the series, and give Maria another chance.
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on November 12, 2014
My First Murder is My First Finnish book. As a big fan of Scandinavian Noir, I had never gone to Finland and I'm happy I chose this book. I was a little confused by the names of the characters (my fault, not the fault of the Finnish language), but once I got started, I couldn't put it down. Writing in the first person is trickier to pull off, but in this case it worked for me. Maria Kallio is an engaging character, with her insecurities and pet peeves about being a woman in a man's profession, I really wanted her to do well, even when she's making mistakes or being insecure about her talents. The mystery develops nicely, and I never saw the culprit coming. I have already downloaded the second book in the series.
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on July 6, 2016
I purchased all 5 in The Maria Kallio series for my Kindle. I did learn my lesson and won't do that again. I will only purchase the 1st book in series and see if I like the author and characters. Leena Lehtolainen has far too many characters in this book with similar names and I had a hard time following the plot and who was who. I guess I am one of those people if you bought it......use it. I will read the entire series. I did like the 2nd book of series(Her Enemy) a little better. Not much, but some. Finally....the 3rd book in series (Copper Heart) is easier to follow and I don't dread picking up my Kindle as much as I did for book 1 & 2. I am hoping Book 4 & 5 will continue to improve. I also find the pace is slow in all 3 books so far. I like an plot that has your attention and you hate to put the book down.
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on August 25, 2016
As others have noted this crime novel is not a thriller. It is also not much of a mystery other than wondering why the police can not identify the murderer until long after the reader has done so. The novel is something of a police procedural as detective Kallio conducts interviews and sorts evidence. Despite being a best seller internationally, the prose style is flat and mostly uninteresting. As many others have noted, I suspect the problem is the translation. There are small hints of that throughout the novel. For instance, at one point Kallio displays her badge. When I studied law enforcement in Finland in 1991, the Finnish police did not use badges. The detectives' identification consisted of two warrant and identification cards in a double case.
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on April 11, 2016
I am sorry I spent $2 to buy this Kindle edition. Everything mistake made by writers is present in this book: uninteresting prose style, boring characters, shallow plotting, zero mystery, etc. Maybe something is lost in translation but I don't think so. I have read many great Scandinavian writers in the mystery/suspense genre. This writer is not. Don't waste your time.
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on April 23, 2013
This is a light, enjoyable read that gives some insight into Finnish society, or at least the part occupied by young adults in the capital. I bought it partly because I used to live in Helsinki, and I enjoy revisiting the place in fiction. The descriptions of people and places did bring a pleasant nostalgia for one of my favorite places.

The heroine is a likable young woman with a severe case of ambivalence about her career. She might want to be a lawyer, a prosecutor, or a police officer. For the moment, she is a summer replacement, having left the force to go to college and been hired back to fill a shortage of cops. Her career ambivalence is credible, and typical of a lot of young Europeans. She's basically a pretty upbeat sort - don't buy this book expecting a female Wallander. (By the way, the name Maria isn't pronounced in the English/Spanish/Italian way we say it, with the accent on the middle syllable. Finnish is always accented on the first syllable, no exceptions, so the name is more like MAR-e-yah. Similarly, the city is HEL-sink-e, not Hel-SINK-e.)

The story is kind of a cross between a police procedural and an English country house murder. Not great literature, but enjoyable enough. I have two criticisms:
1. Maria knows several of the suspects from college. She is much too close to the people involved, I cannot imagine a big-city police department, even one suffering from a severe shortage of detectives, keeping her on the case. That's what makes it like an English country house murder.
2. The translation is in a way too good, i.e. too American. The Finnish language has some quirks that I find quite enjoyable, and I'd have liked the dialogue better if it sounded more like Finns speaking English.

I also gave the book to a female friend for Christmas; she liked it too.

This is a light piece, ideal for the beach or an evening alone in your hotel room (which is how I read it). It's not great literature, but it's a pleasant couple of hours to read.
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on January 11, 2013
For a first book, it is just OK, that's all. A thriller it is not. I don't care for thrillers so that part was OK with me. In my opinion none of the characters was sufficiently developed to make me care anything about them. Maria Kallio, the fill-in detective, was immature and unsure of herself despite the position of trust she was placed in. The character can't well represent the Finnish police force, can it? The plot was slow and plodding. The crime could have been solved in half the number of pages or less. It took me weeks to finish it. Being of Finnish heritage myself and close to the culture, I knew about the rice-filled rye flour pastries, "Karelian piirakka". They're good. You can make any number of fillings for them. But I've never heard of the "kyykka" game. It should have been explained. All that being said and because I know it isn't easy to get a first book published, I'll give the author a break and order another of Lehtolainen's books. I see another is scheduled for release in May 2013. There must be more to this author because this series was made into a popular TV series in Finland. I love reading translated Nordic books particularly with Finnish and northern Swedish settings since I have been there.
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on August 26, 2013
Though this novel probably suffered in translation, I enjoyed it. The mystery itself was of interest but could have been better developed had the characters been more fleshed out.
Leena Lehtolainen presented the story through the eyes of Maria Kallio, a newly minted detective who worked hard to solve the cases handed to her and to overcome the negative stereotype of women on the police force. This made the novel more real but also more difficult to develop as we were privy only to that which she saw, heard and thought.
The Finnish lifestyle and landscape described added to the book as did the attitude of the average inhabitant.
The detractions were the unusual names of the many characters and the somewhat awkward language structure (probably due to translation).
Would I try another Lehtolainen novel? Yes, definitely!
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on August 19, 2013
I have read a few different police procedurals that are from different countries. Sometimes it is important to get out of my American skin and try to understand the personality of not just people but the country. The Finnish people are not like the Swedes or Norwegians (I'll bet they would be the first to tell you that).

This is not a new book and, as one other reviewer said, realizing the time in which it was written might be helpful in appreciating the book. Getting drugs through customs probably wouldn't work today. I am not sure if they use trams as much today as years ago. There is a lot we in the US take for granted.

That being said, the people in the story seemed to be right out of Facebook. They truly rang true for me. The names are a little daunting but fun to roll over my tongue. I found myself searching for the "places" written about on Google Earth.

If you want to better understand the world this might be a way to come out of your comfort zone.

I felt the translator did a good job making this story flow. Try using BING translator on Finnish and you will appreciate his skill.

I will be looking forward to seeing what happens to Maria.
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