What is one to do when confronted with such a book? It’s a bit like We Need to Talk About Kevin, but much less well written, and certainly much less focussed. A family of four, a marriage much less happy than the wife’s narrative voice allows, a daughter who has fled from the claustrophobia of her home, a son on the spectrum—one kind or another, and an absent father. We don’t hear much from either of the men, and the chain of voices is otherwise mechanical. It isn’t a jigsaw, but it has puzzle aspects. Walk-on parts here and there, mainly the daughter, who works for an agency which vaguely resembles Medicins sans Frontieres, but who also introduces friends and noble security guards. Back in Helsinki, there are online terrorists, behind whom lies a world-class groomer.

            The problem about the ‘what is to be done’ aspects is largely that this is a book that means well, that attempts to call attention to saving the planet, to climate change, but never achieves anything surprising. It’s not a crime novel, but a novel with crimes in it, entirely predictable. Bonnier Zaffre are a good press, but the strapline on the cover suggests that they know there are problems. I turned the pages with increasing speed—think of me saving your time and money.

Elina Hirvonen, When Time Runs Out, tr. from the Finnish by Hildi Hawkins, Bonnier Zaffre, Mantle 

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