Keith Miles is probably best recognised by readers under the pen name of Edward Marston. He writes several well-received historical mysteries spanning the 11th century through to the 19th century. His website is www.edwardmarston.com
The Healer has a beguiling simplicity reminiscent of Kafka. Set in the near future, it shows Helsinki crumbling beneath a climate catastrophe.
Flooding is widespread, roofs have been blown off many properties and civic buildings have been turned into emergency shelters. It’s three days before Christmas and a bleak city gets even bleaker for Tapani, a struggling poet, when he discovers that Johanna, his journalist-wife, has disappeared. Her editor, Lassi, is less than helpful but he does admit that she was working on an article about The Healer, a crazed environmentalist who kills people he considers have contributed towards the crisis the world is now in. Tapani is bound to wonder if his wife is the latest victim.
Using only a handful of characters, the novel follows the twists and turns as Tapani picks up a trail. Along the way, he is beaten up by security men and befriended by a North African taxi driver. The police provide a possible name for The Healer even though the man is supposed to have died years ago.
Tapani’s frantic search is blocked at every stage but – sustained by his love for his wife - he presses on relentlessly. He learns disturbing things about Johanna’s past that connect her with the very crimes that she was investigating, and he’s deeply hurt by what he sees as the betrayal by his best friends. In a thrilling climax, the full truth finally emerges.
Terse, fast-paced and prophetic, this is a multi-layered novel of real quality. Tapani may only sell two hundred copies of his books of poems but he’s a tenacious detective who inspires sympathy and admiration. There are fleeting moments when the name of J.G.Ballard comes to mind but Tuomainen has a style and talent all his own.