Behind God’s Back
Behind God’s Back (An Ariel Kafka Mystery) by Harri Nykanen. Translated from the Finnish by Kristian Loudon. (Bitter Lemon Press, 204 pp. $14.95 paperback)
In the second installment in the series following detective Ariel Kafka of Helsinki’s Violent Crimes Unit, Kafka contends with anti-Semitism as well as betrayal and corruption in his own community. Because Kafka is a Jewish, his boss delegates him to investigate crimes among Finland’s Jews. (At the same time, the police question whether Jews—“who have a nose for business”—would ever inform on each other.)
The trouble is that Kafka knows everybody in the close-knit Helsinki Jewish community. And when Samuel Jacobson, owner of a chain of office supply shops, receives a hate letter and is then shot and killed in front of his home, Kafka must speak to Jacobson’s wife, son and daughter—whom he once dated. (Kafka has a loving if sardonic view of his community; a 40-something bachelor, he says he has been rejected as a suitor by every Jewish family.)
At the same time, a rumor from the United States Embassy warns that there will be a high-profile assassination. Could the target be the Israeli minister of justice, who is set to visit the community?
Meanwhile, Kafka’s lawyer brother, Eli, and his partner, Max Oxbaum, are under scrutiny for brokering loans from an Estonian company that is under investigation. Suffice it to say that there are many threads to unravel and suspicious characters to appreciate—such as a Russian-Israeli entrepreneur who may be laundering money for the Russian mafia—before the murders are solved and sexual betrayal and financial corruption are brought to light.