In the Healer, a novel by Finnish author Antti Tuomaninen, poet Tapani Lehtinen navigates a post-apocalyptic Helinski, in search of his missing wife, Johanna. Johanna is a journalist who works for a newspaper that is struggling to maintain its relevance in this strange new world. Immediately before here disappearance, she was investigating a serial killer known as "The Healer". The Healer is known for murdering prominent businessmen, politicians, and their families, all because of their involvement in pursuits that harm the environment. As Tapani studies Johanna's research into the murders, he realizes that she was close to discovering the identity of The Healer. Now he worries that she is pursuing this known serial killer, or worse, The Healer is pursuing her.
This post-apocalyptic world, as imagined by Tuomaninen, falls in line with the bleak views that most of these European authors write about. Society has failed, medicine and doctors are hard to come by, and the police have been made obsolete by a lack of government, money, technology, and manpower. Therefore, the recover of Johanna falls on the shoulders of her husband, Tapani. As he investigates further into her disappearance, he uncovers secrets from her past that threaten to unravel everything he thought he knew about the woman he loves.
Despite the promising premise, I felt that the author was simply going through the motions on this one. I enjoyed the fast pace and entertainment value of the story, but any deeper meaning is either nonexistent or lost in the translation from the original text. There is never enough backstory or emotional depth to make any of the characters worth rooting for. In the end, the motivation behind The Healer's killings is almost laughable. It seemed that the author was trying to make some kind of political statement that comes across as misplaced within the context of the novel. Are we really supposed to believe that with all the chaos and corruption taking place and threatening lives, a person has decided to protect the environment? In this world where infrastructure has failed and disease threatens to spread at plague like speed, it is far more plausible that The Healer would be more concerned with saving his own life, rather than taking others for some political statement. Despite these shortcomings, I have to admit that the novel kept my attention, and I read it easily over the course of an afternoon. While it is not the pinnacle of foreign writing, it is an entertaining read that displays the promise of reading some of these translated novels.
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