‘The Mine’ by Antti Tuomainen

My rating: 4 stars

The Mine by Antti Tuomainen is from the outset an environmental crime mystery, but as the story progresses it starts to shine brighter because of its examination on family bonds and relationships. Throughout the book, various characters have to come to terms with their pasts and decide what they want to do with their lives. Trying to achieve a balance between professional and personal life was proving to be particularly challenging for the main character, Janne Vuori.

A 30-year-old reporter at the newspaper Helsinki Today, Janne received an anonymous email about the nickel mine at Suomalahti in northern Finland. It said that the company was engaged in dangerous activities that could lead to an environmental catastrophe. Intrigued, he decided to go there and investigate the issue. The population of the town nearby the complex had only positive things to say about the mine. Janne believed there had to be something wrong, though, seeing that Finn Mining Ltd had bought the rights to the site for a mere two euros. He just didn’t know what it was yet. Unable to find anything useful near the nickel mine, he returned to Helsinki.

He didn’t give up the investigation, nevertheless. He managed to speak with Harjukangas, whom he thought was still part of the board of directors. She told him that the man who used to be the director of finance and investment had died in an accident at home. Later, at his newspaper, he was told that another journalist had also begun to delve into a story about the Finn Mining Ltd, but he died in a traffic accident.

Janne had a strained relationship with his partner, Pauliina. They had a daughter, Ella, who was still at nursery. His family problems stemmed from him being obsessed with work and not paying enough attention to the people closer to him. Although in certain moments he realised that his behaviour was wrong, he was clearly too self-centred. His father whereabouts were a mystery to him, as he had disappeared when he was only a year old. One of the revelations involving Janne’s father was especially unexpected to me, but it’s socially thought-provoking and makes perfect sense. Not everything is what it seems at first.

The book’s structure is appropriate for the story it’s telling. Some chapters are narrated by Janne in the first person, while others are told in the third person from the point of view of an initially unnamed man, which is intriguing. It also features emails, news pieces and articles to help unveil the mystery surrounding the mine. I liked how some of the daily activities and movements of the characters are described in detail, as it helped to visualise the story. However, I wish the narration was more atmospheric in the occasions when Janne was in grave danger.

If it was the mystery element surrounding the nickel mine that made me want to read this book by Antti Tuomainen, it was the family part that captivated me the most. The ending was rather tense not because of what Janne discovered about the mine, but thanks to the complexity of his personal life and the secrets within his family.

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