Leena Lehtolainen: The Maria Kallio Series


I found myself instantly liking and relating to Maria Kallio, the protagonist of Leena Lehtolainen’s series. In My First Murder, the first book of the series, we meet Maria. She’s a twenty-something punk rocker tomboy, who’s in the middle of a temporary stint on the Helsinki police force while studying for her graduate law exams. Maria narrates her own story, frequently pausing to comment on the sexist attitudes prevalent in her society and her work. I found her to be an immensely likable and relateable protagonist. Her character drove the plot forward, and it is the evolution of her own thoughts about the events around her that comprises the primary plot of the story, rather than the events themselves.

The story doesn’t have the plot complexity, speed, action or intrigue of some of the other series that I have read. However, I found the Finnish landscape and culture a refreshing change.

From the Back of the Book

My First Murder

Twenty-three-year-old law student Maria Kallio is recruited for a temporary position at the Helsinki police department. Sweet-faced but tough and hot-tempered, Maria faces pushback from her new squad – so when a young playboy is murdered at his family’s summer villa, the new detective is out to prove herself.

Found floating facedown at the water’s edge after a night of partying, Tommi Pelatonen appears to have been murdered by one of his closest friends – but why? As Maria discovers, bitter passion and jealousy seethe under the placid surface of the group’s privileged, carefree lifestyle. As Maria uncovers the victim’s unsavory secrets, motives for all seven suspects come to light. Now it’s up to her to untangle the clues before the killer strikes again.

The first book in Leena Lehtolainen’s international bestselling Nordic crime series starring Detective Maria Kallio, My First Murder serves up murder with a slice of life in the Finnish upper crust.

Her Enemy

Leaving the Helsinki police force to put her new law degree to use, Maria Kallio is ready for a fresh start. But when she discovers a strangled body, old habits die hard for the redheaded sleuth—especially since the accused is related to her new boyfriend.

The police rush to close the case against the victim’s fiancé, but Maria is convinced they’ve got the wrong man and soon finds herself unofficially investigating the murder, now labeled a sex crime. To crack the case, Kallio will have to pull back the curtain on the secret dealings of Finnish high society…and uncover a secret someone is willing to kill to keep hidden.

Her Enemy, the second book in Lehtolainen’s international bestselling Nordic crime series, sends intrepid Detective Kallio to the dark side of human passion.


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