As White as Snow by Salla Simukka
Translated from Finnish by Owen F. Witesman
After risking her life to bring down a crime ring in Finland, seventeen year-old Lumikki retreats to the anonymous streets of Prague, hoping to find a little peace. Instead she finds a young woman claiming to be her long-lost sister whose life may be in danger. Even though she finds the girl’s story suspicious, Lumikki can’t turn her back on the girl and the mystery surrounding her.
Some elements – an investigative reporter working to uncover a far-reaching scandal aided by a brilliant but odd girl – may remind readers of Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Yet despite the drama and suspense, the story’s pace chokes on pointless flashbacks featuring a failed romance between Lumikki and her transgender partner. Perhaps Lumikki is too smart, for she often foils the plans of her enemies with seemingly little effort. To digest the ending requires a firm willing suspension of disbelief as Lumikki resolves one mystery only to abandon pressing charges or consequences on some guilty parties.
As White as Snow is the second book detailing Lumikki’s crime-fighting exploits. Perhaps reading the first book, As Red as Blood would have given me a better reference point for understanding how the relationship flashbacks related to the current story. Without having read that first book, it’s hard for me to say. As a fan of Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo books, I felt this story, which is advertised as a comparable tale, really couldn’t compare to the complexity and machine-tight plot found in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But perhaps that comparison set the bar too high?
Profanity used very infrequently.
Lumikki has flashbacks to her relationship with Blaze, who is a transgender boy. Blaze ended his relationship with Lumikki due to worries that she couldn’t accept his transition. Lumikki feels she never judged Blaze and loved him regardless of any issues related to his transgender-ness. She remembers some sexual experiences rather vividly – PG-13 kind of stuff. These scenes don’t really connect to the present story at all. Blaze never enters the story in any way other than in the flashbacks, and they never add to the current tale.
Lenka is a member of a cult whose practices have some connection with Christianity. The cult members believe they are members of one family, and their practices reference Jesus and God. There are references to other cults in which members have committed suicide en masse.
An assassin tries to catch and kill Lumikki, but he’s a bit clumsy about it.
A girl takes sleeping pills on orders from her spiritual leader.