Jarkko Sipila – Finland’s finest

Jarkko Sipila is a Finnish journalist who has become just as successful on the other side of the limelight, as an interviewee. But why wouldn’t he when Jarkko is given the chance to tell us about his incredibly addictive Helsinki homicide novel series which he has written, making him an accomplished author as well as crime reporter.

When I worked my way through all the excitement and media attention around some very famous Nordic Noir authors who have become household names, I started to find authors who aren’t at the forefront as much as they should be. Authors who are collecting very prestigious literary awards, authors who have penned novels for nearly 20 years, successfully. Authors that work in their everyday life within the crime field and authors who are producing gritty and thrilling crime novels which are being sold around the world. So on my list of must read authors for 2015 within the Nordic Noir genre is Jarkko Sipila, who ticks all the boxes above.

He started out as a crime reporter for Helsingin Sanomat and from there the interest surrounding crime took off. Jarkko has been writing since 1996, so he has watched the phenomenon of Nordic Noir evolve and change the interest and perceptions of the Nordic regions. The protagonist of his signature series is Detective Kari Takamaki and he takes us through the violent crimes which take place in Helsinki. Unlike a majority of crime detective protagonists, Detective Takamaki does not seem to be fighting off personal demons in every book, so this allows the story to concentrate on the crimes and new characters being introduced to us. The stories are nicely paced out and cleverly twists the readers conclusions up until the end.

Taking a slightly different route from writing his books Jarkko joined forces with co-writer Jouni Molsa and they wrote the Finnish TV series ‘Detectives don’t sing’ in 2006 which was greeted with high praise from the Finnish viewers. Helsinki is the setting for the main series of novels and like it’s author, deserves a bigger limelight next to its counter parts. Helsinki, the capital of Finland is emerging as a Nordic arena to show off Nordic authors, Nordic cuisine and fashion. When I had a chance to ask Jarkko a few questions I was very intrigued to find out more about this crime writer who balances his two careers alongside each other so well.

jarkkosipila-458x600 You have been on the Nordic Noir scene successfully since 1996, how have you seen this phenomenon genre grow in the last couple of years?

The change has been huge. In Finland the crime novel boom began in the nineties and has not really stopped. Readers seem to enjoy dark stories. Swedish novels – mainly from Stig Larsen – made this Nordic crime world famous. Crime and police stories are quite universal. Concepts of good and bad are universal so the readers can relate to these novels worldwide. Policemen, at least the honest ones, in Helsinki, London or Brisbane think alike. They want to get the bad guys behind bars.

You have taken the conscious decision for your protagonist in the Helsinki homicide novels to be together, proactive and not carrying any personal burdens, unlike a majority of other Nordic detectives. Does this mean you can concentrate more on the crime than the Detectives personal life?

This is indeed a conscious decision. I started planning my first Helsinki Homicide –novel in 1999. At that time I had been working as a crime reporter for about ten years and met a lot of real policemen. I decided to take a realistic approach to the police work. This meant that the protagonists should be also as realistic as possible. There are of course problems among the policemen and –women, but rarely do you see for example boozing wildcats really solving crimes. The main focus of the stories is in the tension and solving crime. Why it happened and what followed. I also try to tackle some issues, such as racism, immigration and the morality of police action.

You are fully encircled by crime in your everyday life as Head of the crime news unit on Finnish TV and with your crime novels, how do you take a step back for it to not bring you down?

Well, first of all I don’t really watch TV’s crime series a lot. I’ve been coaching and working as a general manager for youth soccer and hockey team’s where my son has played. Xbox-games are fun too.

Five of your Helsinki novels have been translated into English, is this an avenue you would like to go down for your other novels?

Yes, five have been published so far and the sixth is coming this year.

That is exciting news for us to watch out for. With over 19 novels written, how would you like to see your literary career progress further in 2015?

I am currently working on the latest Finnish Helsinki Homicide-novel. There are a couple of other projects also.

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1 Discussion on “Jarkko Sipila – Finland’s finest”
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