Karo Hamalainen Cruel Is the Night

ISBN 13: 9781616956813

Cruel Is the Night

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9781616956813: Cruel Is the Night

Prizewinning Finnish author Karo Hämäläinen’s English-language debut is a literary homage to Agatha Christie and a black comedy locked-room mystery about murder, mayhem, and morality in our cynical modern world.

Three cell phones ring in an opulent London apartment. The calls go unanswered because their recipients are all dead.

Earlier that night, four Finnish friends meet for dinner. It’s been ten years since the host, Robert, has seen his once-best friend, Mikko. The two had an ideological falling-out because Robert, a banker, made millions off of unethical (but not illegal) interest rate manipulations. Mikko, meanwhile, is an investigative journalist who has dedicated his career to bringing down corrupt financiers and politicians. Also along for the evening are Mikko’s wife, Veera—with whom Robert once had a secret affair—and Robert’s young trophy wife, Elise. Mikko has arrived in London with an agenda and thinks he’s about to get away with murder, but he has no idea what’s on the menu for the night: not only does every diner have a bone to pick with another, but there’s an arsenal of deadly weapons hiding in plain
sight.

And by the end of the night, there will be only one survivor.

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About the Author:

Karo Hämäläinen spent 15 years as an economics reporter and currently works as the managing editor of Parnasso, Finland’s leading literary publication. His debut novel, The Buyout, was shortlisted for the 2011 Savonia Prize and received the 2012 Tampere Literary Prize. His novel Alone won the 2016 Savonia Prize. Following stints in Munich, Berlin, and Tampere, he now lives in Helsinki. In his spare time, he likes reading and running; his record marathon time is 3:04:04.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Mikko
The flight was unpleasant.
     A family with two children sat behind us, and somewhere over the North Sea, the boy decided that the armrests of the aisle seats would make excellent parallel bars. Using them to swing himself along the aisle was great fun. The fact that some of the passengers—myself included—were resting our elbows on his play equipment did not hinder the boy in the least. He simply grabbed hold of each perfect stranger’s wrist and continued on his way.
     When the boy’s game began, I knew it wouldn’t last long. Temporally limited discomfort was tolerable.
     It went as I had assumed. After ten minutes of running amok, one of his many falls left him crying, which was followed by soothing and caresses from the mother. For the remainder of the journey, the parents succeeded in keeping the boy’s attention on an activity book.
     On the other hand, the party of five young women sitting two rows ahead of us granted no such mercy. Their horse-faced hahaha’s pummeled my auditory canals, and the blondest of the quintet frequently ejaculated admiring and horrified uh-ohs. Thanks to my daughter, Julia, I had learned the dialect of today’s youth relatively well, but this was my first time hearing someone use the acronym OMG in speech. No principle of economy could justify the expression, as it could in a text message, because pronouncing the three letters took just as much effort as three one-syllable words. So it was nothing more than a corruption of the language.
     The women were talking about their plans for the future—one was nursing hopes of marrying an American exchange student and moving to Ohio to be a housewife (“or was it Orlando?”). They went through what each had packed—one had three blouses, another was going to make do with two, but the latter had a dress with her that was pretty blouselike and could also be worn with jeans, but not the one with stripes that the third one thought was so delicious.
     This endless recitation didn’t even stop during the meal. Each glass of champagne—“it’s already one o’clock and we aren’t even drunk yet”—raised the volume level as if someone were clicking a remote control.
     I tried to focus on Murder on the Orient Express, but due to the distractions of the environment, I couldn’t keep track of the personalities and backgrounds of the characters. My attention kept getting stuck on the Finnish translation, and I found myself trying to guess how each sentence went in the original English. Then I retranslated them. Veera asked whether I wanted to trade places with her. She was sitting in the middle seat, where perhaps all the noise was not quite as audible as on the aisle. I said we shouldn’t bother. I had been dealt this tribulation and would bear it with my paperback in my lap, staring at the bright yellow upper half of the seat in front of me.
     When the wheels of the airplane touched down on the tarmac at Stansted Airport, I only had one thought: It will all be over soon.
     But when I caught hold of that thought, I changed it.
     Soon it would all begin.
     Carefully I inserted my fingers into the left front pocket of my jeans. With my fingertips I felt the slick surface of the zipper storage bag. Retrieving my backpack from under the seat in front of me, I thought I could feel the warmth of the rye bread through the fabric, although the bread had been baked the night before. I quickly pulled my fingers away from the heat.
     I had to take a few deep breaths when Veera turned her gaze away, because Veera was the one I feared the most. She was a strong-willed woman and knew me frighteningly well. If anyone was going to prevent me carrying out my plan, it would be her. I couldn’t arouse even the slightest suspicion in her.
     I had been preparing this evening for several weeks, but I had really been building up to it for more than thirty years. As long as I had known Robert.
     Considering how much I had contemplated the coming hours, I was calm. I wasn’t even really thinking about the evening, instead allowing myself to be irritated at my fellow travelers. I acted as I had planned: I would concentrate on the details, allowing them to fill my mind. Suddenly it would be evening, and everything would be done. And then everything could start.
     I hadn’t spent three hours of purgatory in coach because I wanted to kill my childhood friend.
     I didn’t want to. I had to, because the alternative would be lifelong regret. I wouldn’t be able to cope with that.
 
 
Robert
Managing uncertainty a necessary but not sufficient condition for success. You still have to convert that ability to manage uncertainty into a strength, and that requires years of work at hardening your natural resolve. I had the necessary prerequisites and had purposefully trained myself to load the dice in my favor.
     Because uncertainty frightened others more than me, I had a competitive advantage. I understood that and used it in my favor.
     Success: Locate your competitive advantage. Strengthen it. Make money.
     I was evidence that the recipe worked.
     A cardboard box decorated in pastel tones from a patisserie rocked against my thigh as the elevator accelerated to full cruising speed, six meters per second.
     Of course a courier could have brought the cake, or we could have asked the restaurant of the Shangri-La Hotel to prepare whatever dessert we liked. The restaurant would have delivered the cake directly to our kitchen using the dumbwaiter, effortlessly and at the time of our choosing. However, I enjoyed simple tasks like picking up a chocolate cake. Passing time was my job now. I enjoyed the speed of the elevator. I had enjoyed walking a few blocks in the almost-summer weather of a Saturday in a London just beginning to bring the short sleeves out, and the sun had been shining so brightly that I could justifiably flip open my sunglasses.
     The doors of the elevator slid apart in front of me as discreetly as a butler might have opened them. Stepping into my foyer, I stood above London. During my first trips up the elevator, I had felt the change of air pressure in my ears, but I had grown accustomed to that now. People can get used to all sorts of environments.
     Italian architects have an eye for detail and they understand the importance of space. What is the Coliseum but arches surrounded by stone? Where else can you feel the majesty of heaven as you do kneeling in contrition under the dome of a Roman Catholic cathedral? Nowhere but on the treeless top of a fell in the wilderness of Lapland—or in the Shard, the ninety-five-story skyscraper towering over the wilderness which goes by the name of London Town.
     When he designed the building, Renzo Piano understood that people need air and light, and that success in life is easier if you can see farther than everyone else. With clear skies, I could see sixty kilometers from my foyer.
     In the center of this landscape, my wife stood taller than the radio masts of the BT Tower off across the Thames. Elise was dressed in a white bathrobe I had bought her in Paris early on in our courtship. Her shapely calves glistened alluringly below the hem. I knew what came next. I knew what the bathrobe was covering.
     That was why I could barely, just barely control myself.
     Three years earlier I hadn’t ever been able to, so I was pleased with myself.
     Elise was a treacherous woman, which was why she was so irresistibly attractive. My classic good looks combined with Elise’s graceful femininity. My analytical faculties and intelligence combined with Elise’s magnetism and abandon. The superb synthesis of genes our future offspring would receive would make things possible for them that were not yet for us. They would be capable of anything.
     When I saw Elise for the first time at an office-warming party for the law firm my company used—in order to emphasize how unconventional it was, the firm had moved out of the City into a nondescript building in Covent Garden—I was conversing with a corporate restructuring attorney about the evening’s Champions League match. Elise walked past me, and her bare arm brushed lightly against my bicep through my coat. I stopped her and asked whether she thought Chelsea or Bayern München would win.
      “I’ve always been an HJK supporter myself,” Elise replied in Finnish.
     We behaved quite rudely, retiring to a quiet side room to talk in a language no one else understood. I found myself searching for words, since I had never had any interest in keeping up with the Finnish circles in London and hadn’t spoken my mother tongue in months.
     We moved on to one of the picturesque little pubs in Covent Garden and from there to a hotel room for two.
     Then we ended up married.
     I slipped behind Elise. She was concentrating and didn’t notice me.
     I kissed her neck.
     I smelled the sickening sweetness of cider.
      “You’ve already started,” I said.
      “Is that a problem?”
     I was disappointed, but I couldn’t say as much. If I did, Elise would point out that eating and drinking are personal matters. Over the past few months, Elise had begun drinking more and more. Perhaps I was also more aware of it because my own alcohol use had declined since I quit working at Union Credit.
     We had agreed that I wouldn’t interfere in Elise’s personal business. That was black and white. So I didn’t.
     Taking a glass from another’s hand was not forbidden, though, if you were taking it to drink yourself. I forgot the flavor of the cider, because Elise wasn’t in the habit of tying her bathrobe shut. “Who’s going to see?” she had asked once when I mentioned it.
     I had no reason to encourage her to change that habit.
     Still, I couldn’t help thinking about how Elise avoided belts. About how she had a good reason to.
      “That chocolate cake smells good,” Elise said.
      “So do you.”
     Mikko and Veera would arrive in a little over an hour. A tingling tension filled my body.
     Tonight everything was possible. The course of the evening wasn’t completely planned out, which allowed for an intriguing sense of uncertainty. Uncertainty and possibility are the same thing viewed from different perspectives. An opportunity is never a certainty.
     I have never been interested in certain stability, only in uncertain success.
     This was not going to be just any

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Book Description Soho Press Inc, United States, 2017. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Prizewinning Finnish author Karo Hamalainen s English-language debut is a literary homage to Agatha Christie and a black comedy locked-room mystery about murder, mayhem, and morality in our cynical modern world. Three cell phones ring in an opulent London apartment. The calls go unanswered because their recipients are all dead. Earlier that night, four Finnish friends meet for dinner. It s been ten years since the host, Robert, has seen his once-best friend, Mikko. The two had an ideological falling-out because Robert, a banker, made millions off of unethical (but not illegal) interest rate manipulations. Mikko, meanwhile, is an investigative journalist who has dedicated his career to bringing down corrupt financiers and politicians. Also along for the evening are Mikko s wife, Veera--with whom Robert once had a secret affair--and Robert s young trophy wife, Elise. Mikko has arrived in London with an agenda and thinks he s about to get away with murder, but he has no idea what s on the menu for the night: not only does every diner have a bone to pick with another, but there s an arsenal of deadly weapons hiding in plain sight. And by the end of the night, there will be only one survivor. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9781616956813

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Book Description Soho Press Inc, United States, 2017. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Prizewinning Finnish author Karo Hamalainen s English-language debut is a literary homage to Agatha Christie and a black comedy locked-room mystery about murder, mayhem, and morality in our cynical modern world. Three cell phones ring in an opulent London apartment. The calls go unanswered because their recipients are all dead. Earlier that night, four Finnish friends meet for dinner. It s been ten years since the host, Robert, has seen his once-best friend, Mikko. The two had an ideological falling-out because Robert, a banker, made millions off of unethical (but not illegal) interest rate manipulations. Mikko, meanwhile, is an investigative journalist who has dedicated his career to bringing down corrupt financiers and politicians. Also along for the evening are Mikko s wife, Veera--with whom Robert once had a secret affair--and Robert s young trophy wife, Elise. Mikko has arrived in London with an agenda and thinks he s about to get away with murder, but he has no idea what s on the menu for the night: not only does every diner have a bone to pick with another, but there s an arsenal of deadly weapons hiding in plain sight. And by the end of the night, there will be only one survivor. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9781616956813

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