Friday, 30 December 2016

The Mine by Antti Tuomainen

I was introduced to this author through an earlier novel, The Healer. While that was a post-apocalyptic novel and The Mine is set in the current day, both books are eco-thrillers. And they’re both brilliant. In my review of The Healer, I wrote that I felt the environment to be seriously overlooked by fiction; that if one believes even half the warnings coming out of the scientific community, then the perilous state of the environment    is the massive elephant in the room that dwarfs the usual fare of thriller writers: terrorism, crime, etc.

Like The Healer, The Mine addresses that imbalance and does so without being preachy or hectoring. In fact, another feature both novels share is a deceptively simple plot. In The Mine, journalist Janne Vuori is contacted anonymously by email concerning a nickel mine in Suomalahti, northern Finland. The mine, operated by Finn Mining Ltd, a family concern and one of Finland’s biggest mining companies, is alleged by Vuori’s mystery correspondents to be an ecological disaster.

Vuori heads off to investigate and quickly begins to suspect that this is indeed the truth. There are several other strands to this story, a series of unexplained deaths and murders, Vuori’s father appearing on the scene after an absence of many years and his attempts to make amends to the wife and son he abandoned. But I won’t give too much away as I don’t want to spoil the fun

As with The Healer, The Mine isn’t a book packed with twists and turns and convoluted plot developments. That’s not to say that there isn’t a fair few surprises, but like his concern with the environment, the author’s writing style is sparse and direct. This is in no way a criticism; The Mine is a compelling read and carries a real punch. Its style suits the story the author wants to tell and where some authors distract from the message they want to get across with various literary party tricks, Antti Tuomainen tells a simple, yet poetically beautiful tale.

In conclusion, this is a strong novel. It’s a crime thriller with a conscience and unafraid to wear it. It’s never sanctimonious, it doesn’t hector the reader, but one feels the urgency of the crisis of the environment, we get a sense of the damage that we as a species have done while also warming to the protagonist and his family.

Highly recommended. 5 stars

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