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Leena Lehtolainen Books In Order

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Publication Order of Bodyguard Books

The Bodyguard (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Lion of Justice (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Devil's Cubs (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Maria Kallio Books

My First Murder (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
Her Enemy (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Copper Heart (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
Snow Woman (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death Spiral (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
Fatal Headwind (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Before I Go (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Below the Surface (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Nightingale Murder (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Derailed (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
Where Have All the Young Girls Gone (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon

Leena Lehtolainen is a Finish author of mystery and thriller novels best known for her Maria Kallio Series which accounts for Maria Kristina Kallio career as a cop in Espoo city and her personal life as well. Born in Vesanto, North Savonia, Leena’s debut novel was published at the age of 12. She attended Helsinki where she studied literature and began writing crime novels from 1993. Her novels have been translated into different languages including Chinese, Polish, Spanish, Swedish, Dutch, Estonian, and Czech.

In 1997 and 1998, Leena Lehtolainen won Finnish Crime Novel Annual Prize. Additionally, she also won Espoo City Awards of Arts and was subsequently nominated for Glass Key Award. She is a resident of Degerby, Helsinki.

My First Murder

My First Murder is the first book in Maria Kallio series by Leena Lehtolainen. It introduces the readers to a very young sergeant Maria Kallio stationed at Helsinki Violent Crime Unit but in a concise term substitute posting. Late in her twenties, Maria is very undecided about her career as a cop especially that she joined the forces immediately after high school and discovered that she did not enjoy her work and quit to join law school, but during her studies, she has however continued with police work. She has handled a couple of homicide cases including a man putting a hatchet in his wife’s head or a drunken man stabbing his friend to death. But now Maria is handling a case that could probably qualify as her first murder.

The case falls into her lap since her boss Detective Kalevi can’t be reached and despite being on a contract of six months, she is net in the line of command.
Tommi Peltonen is the dead man; he is a blast from Maria’s past. So the obvious suspects in this murder case are familiar faces to Maria, former friends, and roommates. For the understaffed and overworked Finnish police department, such conflicts of interest are not much of a problem. It’s revealed that the dead man had a way with the ladies and this might have hurt other men’s feelings, so there are plenty of people who might have wanted him dead.

The investigation is soon underway, and Maria uncovers dark secrets from her former friends as she investigates them one by one while additional evidence keeps coming up. Probably the man didn’t die because of sex, because he was still demanding money back and it also turns out that he also undertook other shitty dealings which could as well get him in trouble.

The police procedural aspect of this debut novel is quite satisfying. It is a decent introduction to crime and policing from a different society. Reason? Finland is one of the most violent Scandinavian countries. Maria also has to handle other simpler cases including rape while she pursues the initial murder investigation and this gives a glimpse into the day to day activities in Finnish crime and the police department.

Maria is an interesting heroine, a woman who finds herself in a male-dominated job, a woman who falls short in romantic interests. Nevertheless, the author manages to master her modest plot and easy to use at a time when it reminds us that there were many things before the innovation of mobile phones, in plus and beyond, and the context is convincing, creating an atmosphere.

Her Enemy

After finally solving her first murder cases and leaving behind her job at the Helsinki Police Department, Maria thought that relocating to a neighboring city would be a fresh start- a chance not only to put her newly acquired degree in law in use but also but also to nurture her romance with Antti Sarkela.
The red-headed ex-policeman Maria Kallio is working at a law firm and lives with her boyfriend Antti Sarkela in Tapiola for the summer in this parents’ apartment.

The restful summer party is interrupted when Maria’s distant relative Armi is strangled in her home yard, and Maria begins to defend the accused Kimmo Hänn, Armin’s boyfriend, who is considered by other police as a clear culprit. Mary’s interference is not considered, and the furious of her is the old enemy of Mary, Pertti Ström. Finding the body of a strangled body of a new client, she once again finds herself investigating especially when the accused is not only the victim’s lover but also an Antti’s family member.

Though working as a legal counselor, Maria soon finds herself investigating a murder case, now labeled a crime of passion. While Antti’s relative may possess some peculiar sexual behaviors, Maria still doubts that the man she swore to defend is capable of harming if not killing a man. In order to solve this complex case, Maria will have to do whatever she can and uncover the secret that the killer is willing to kill again to keep it hidden.

The second in the series is a brilliant read. On the surface, Her Enemy is a murder mystery novel but deep inside its sprinkled with some hints of the feminist agent. The author has added a subtle back story of the women’s position in modern society. During this backstory unraveling, the author has added a story that discusses that usual taboo subjects of drug use, self-harm, sex clubs, domestic violence and illustrations how attitudes towards women have rarely changed despite immense sexual revolution.

This novel hits the spot; it’s a good mix of murder and sex without becoming overly gratuitous. There are plenty of references to poems by Sylvia Plath and in particular, a famous one titled Lady Lazarus. There’s plenty of violence, but that’s not the dominant part of the story. Additionally, the book can be read as a standalone novel because Lehtolainen provides enough introductions into the heroine and her current situation in the introduction chapter. If you enjoy reading mystery thriller books with plenty of action, not so strong scenes of romance and featuring a strong heroine, then Maria Kallio is a good recommended series.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Leena Lehtolainen

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