As Red as Blood by Salla Simukka

Lumikki Andersson, Book 1

Synopsis: In the midst of the freezing Arctic winter, seventeen-year-old Lumikki Andersson walks into her school’s dark room and finds a stash of wet, crimson-colored money. Thousands of Euros left to dry—splattered with someone’s blood.

Lumikki lives alone in a studio apartment far from her parents and the past she left behind. She transferred into a prestigious art school, and she’s singularly focused on studying and graduating. Lumikki ignores the cliques, the gossip, and the parties held by the school’s most popular and beautiful boys and girls.

But finding the blood-stained money changes everything. Suddenly, Lumikki is swept into a whirlpool of events as she finds herself helping to trace the origins of the money. Events turn even more deadly when evidence points to dirty cops and a notorious drug kingpin best known for the brutality with which he runs his business.

As Lumikki loses control of her carefully constructed world, she discovers that she’s been blind to the forces swirling around her—and she’s running out of time to set them right. When she sees the stark red of blood on snow, it may be too late to save her friends or herself.

Review: I admit that I was really curious to learn more about this novel once I heard about it. I read a lot of novels from foreign authors, but a Finnish writer is a first for me and I was eager to find out how the book was going to be. I always think that the Nordic writers are able to manage and create a totally unique atmosphere and I wanted to find more about this one. In any case I had a good time with this first volume.

Lumikki is a 17 years old girl who has not asked anything to anyone and who hopes to continue her studies in tranquility. However, her life will be turned upside down when one morning, going in the darkroom of her school, she discovers many 500 euro billets, expanded everywhere, and water tanks filled with blood. All this could have stopped here when later the tickets go away when she returns but it is not counting on the curiosity of the young girl who finds herself mixed up in this story. When a girl from her class, Elisa, herself intimately linked to the problem, asks for help, Lumikki can not refuse and that’s where the downward spiral begins for our young heroine. Between mafia, murder, drugs, kidnapping, our heroine will really have many things to do.

I took a great pleasure in discovering this dark story and to see the links of the characters with the mafia. Lumikki herself is a really intriguing character. We do not really know a lot about her past or what has made it what she is today but she has some unusual capabilities interesting to discover. She tries to let things behind her, to act like if nothing was touching her and yet she is a person with a big heart and who does not hesitate to put herself in danger for others. She will be propelled into a world she does not know about and despite all that is happening, she confronts the events as best as she can.

We discover other characters in the story, three will be recurring. But it is true that it is Elisa who was the ones who affects us the most. She is not really a very smart girl, but she knows that what’s happening is not normal and that something must be done. She thought to live a perfect life but she will realize that everything is off the mark and we can only sympathize with her. At the same time, she does not hesitate to endanger Lumikki, and to ask her for help without realizing the impact it could have on the girl. We also have two other boys, but I’m less attached to them as they do not really have a big impact on the story so I prefer not to talk about them.

In all cases this novel was a pleasant surprise. A rather dark story, and yet it takes us from beginning to end. Speaking of ending, I have to say that I’m quite intrigued by the new track that is looming for the future and I’m curious to see more about it.