Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Hummingbird by Kati Hiekkapelto

First Line: That night the Sandman arrived like a Gestapo henchman.

As a child, Anna Fekete fled the wars in Yugoslavia. Now she's the newest member of the Violent Crime Unit in a coastal town in northern Finland. Her new team welcomes her, except for one person-- her partner, Esko, a middle-aged grouch who drinks too much and doesn't hide his hatred of immigrants.

Anna and the team are immediately thrown into a high-profile case in which joggers are being killed on deserted running paths. The case progresses and everything points to a serial killer, but the clues are few and far between. How are the victims connected?

The setting of The Hummingbird-- especially when Hiekkapelto is describing the forests of Finland-- is extremely atmospheric and suspenseful, even a bit claustrophobic. It was difficult for me to stop feeling as though I were being watched.

The mystery that begins with the deaths of joggers on deserted running tracks is complex and unfolds slowly over a period of four months. I had no problem with the case taking that long to solve, but I do feel that the writing could have been tightened a bit in order to keep the story flowing smoothly.

The occasional italicized chapter is a sort of diary written by a young girl, and this ties into a second case that Anna takes very personally. She is absolutely convinced that a young immigrant girl is in very real danger of honor killing, and when she isn't spending hours trying to find a serial killer, she's spending her nights in a marked patrol car parked outside the girl's home hoping her presence will stop the girl's family from doing anything rash. It's a subplot that makes you wonder about Anna's behavior, and Anna's behavior is the only real stumbling block I had in this book.

Anna keeps not only her fellow characters at a distance but the reader, too. Combine this with the fact that I always had the feeling that more was going on than I was being allowed to see, and I soon became puzzled and a tiny bit unhappy. Once all was revealed, I did find out that I was right; there was more going on than readers were being allowed to see. Originally, this made me feel as though I could not be trusted. Once I knew what was what, I understood that there was an excellent reason for the secrecy... but I still felt snubbed. I think this means that I can be a very subjective reader from time to time. But becoming subjective means that Kati Hiekkapelto engaged my emotions as well as my mind. She's telling a story from the perspective of an immigrant woman, and in this day and age, it's a story that should always involve both heart and intellect.

The Hummingbird is a complex mystery that is a pleasure to unravel, and that's partly due to the fact that the characters do not always behave in ways that you would expect them to. Now that I've become acquainted with Anna Fekete, I want to know more, so it's on with the series I'll go!

The Hummingbird by Kati Hiekkapelto
Translated by David Hackston
eISBN: 9781909807754
Arcadia Books © 2014
eBook, 364 pages

Police Procedural, #1 Anna Fekete mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.


  1. Glad you found a lot to like with this one, Cathy. You make an interesting point about feeling left out, if that makes sense. That's happened to me, too, and it can put the reader off. Still, much to like here, I think.

  2. I like this series a lot, and am waiting for a friend to return the third book to me, as I haven't yet read it.

    Hope Anna Fegete keeps on detecting.


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