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Nights of Awe (Ariel Kafka #1)

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  170 ratings  ·  39 reviews

'Nykanen's twist on Nordic crime fiction may be the most inventive of the year. Ariel Kafka, a middle-aged bachelor, is a detective in Helsinki (think early Harry Hole) and, as far as he knows, the only Jew on the entire Helsinki police force, which is why he's picked to head up the investigation of a series of murders that began with two Arabic-looking men who may have be
ebook, 247 pages
Published March 20th 2012 by Bitter Lemon Press (first published 2004)
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Apr 12, 2015 Thomas rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Thomas by: friend
The author, formerly a crime reporter, has crafted an interesting police officer. Ariel Kafka is 1 of 2 Jewish policeman in Finland. He considers himself a Finnish policeman first and a Jew second. He only goes to the synagogue occasionally. He has a sense of humor and deals gently with his rabbi trying to persuade him to come to synagogue more often. His conflicting loyalties come into play when as an inspector in the Helsinki Violent crime unit he is called to the scene of the murder of 2 Arab ...more
NIGHTS OF AWE. (2004; Eng. trans. 2012). Harri Nykanen. **.
The author is a successful Finnish writer with a prior series of books featuring his character Raid. Raid is a hit man and manages to get himself into a variety of criminal scenes that are – apparently – real shot-em-ups. Only one of the Raid books has been translated into English. This novel is the first in a new series for the author that features Ariel Kafka. Ariel is only one of two Jewish policemen in the whole of Finland: not that
Ok, with its stereotypical characters and situations, Nights if Awe is not very good, but how could I resist a mystery about a Jewish cop in Helsinki? Too weird for words. There are about 1,500 Jews among the 5,000,000 Finns, and at least in intimate situations they seem to behave just like Eastern European Jews in Bethesda. Is Nykanen having fun adapting American hardboiled fiction for the Finnish Borsht Belt? Is this a copy of several copies? Although there are a lot of street names and car mo ...more
Linda  Branham Greenwell
A very unusual Scandinavian mystery. The main character is a police inspector named Ariel Kafka - who is Jewish. The story focuses on a very complicated story of Arabs and Jews and a possible plot to bomb a Jewish synagogue on Yom Kippur. Because Ariel Kafka is Jewish his loyalty is called into question.
It is a complicated mystery with many players - and what their motive is called into question. Nothing is as it seems. And no one is who they appear to be.
I am looking forward to the next book in
Nancy Oakes
The bodies certainly pile up in Nights of Awe, Harri Nykänen's first foray into the series featuring Ariel Kafka of the Helsinki Violent Crimes Unit. Nykänen is no fledgling writer -- he has several books under his belt, including his Raid series, which was the basis for a TV show in Finland.

Nights of Awe is a good series opener, a very serious police procedural where the solution doesn't unravel until the very end. It's a no-nonsense story, with a different approach to Scandinavian crime fictio
There must be something about the northern European countries that produces so many fine mystery writers. Whatever it is, Nights of Awe (originally in Finnish) and its author Harri Nykanen join the circle of excellence.

The author has created a fictional detective, Ariel Kafka, the only Jewish officer on the Helsinki force. This book features Inspector Kafka trying to solve a series of murders, all of which seem to be related.

I liked this quite a bit but I have the following criticism: there are
I wanted to read this book because I know so little about Finland and this was an interesting way in....the protagonist a Jewish cop, one of two. I liked Ari but the plot was very convoluted and didn't come together til the last two pages. That means that I was mystified for almost all of the book. The writing was ok, but as police procedurals go, not anywhere as good as Leon or Camilleri or Harrod-Eagle or Mankell. Also I didn't get as much of a sense of finland as I would have liked. I just sa ...more
This is a much easier read than most of the other current Scandinavian noir or detective/ mystery genre. And I thought the writing style blunt, direct, often stark and crisp to exact meaning. I liked it. Sometimes that made the dialog sound juvenile/childish, but in real life when surprised or chided or faced with a strong negative, that's how people do speak and react.

My 2 star was because Kafka doesn't have depth. Not to the extent that I expect of a strong protagonist. He is a 40 year old com
I heard good things about this book and I really wanted to like it. I like the main character of Ari Kafka, a Jewish detective in the violent crimes police division in Finland. Kafka and other members of his department are called to the scene of a murder of 2 Arabs at an auto body shop. The body count continues to climb and the story becomes quite convoluted. For me, it was the ending that saved this book. I did not see the ending coming at all and it is excellent.
Amy Rudolph
This represents another port on my Northern European cruise mini-challenge: Helsinki, Finland. After reading reviews that said, "If you like Lenny Briscoe and Munch you will like Ariel Kafka," I had hopes for this book, but they were not quite fulfilled. For one thing, I didn't come away with much of a sense of Helsinki (part of the point of this reading challenge). For another, the bodies kept piling up in ways that required shifts to the police's theory of the crime, and those shifts were hard ...more
Gloria Feit
There are two Jewish cops in all of Helsinki. One of them, Ari Kafka, a lieutenant in the Violent Crime Unit of the Helsinki police, who makes his debut in this novel, identifies himself as a policeman first, then a Finn, and lastly a Jew. He catches a weird case involving the murder of two Arabs, to begin with, followed by several others.

It is not known whether these deaths are related, although they appear to be, or are the result of a drug bust gone bad, gang warfare or even a terrorist plot,
Now I really liked this book. If this is the first of a group of English translations, I couldn't be happier. Ariel Kafka has a terse, few words style of speaking and subtly witty as well. I like irony used in that way. It says so much with so little and provides a thorough and intimate participation with whatever line is being followed. Ari Kafka is head of the violent crimes division in Helsinki and this not exactly what usually comes through the desk. By the way, Ariel Kafka is also Jewish. A ...more
This Finnish police procedural has a lot in common with the glut of crime fiction that's been coming out of Scandinavia for the last decade or so. It features a somewhat frazzled middle-aged male protagonist, in this case, Detective Inspector Kafka with the Violent Crimes unit of the Helsinki police. He's supported by a team of cops who each have one distinguishing trait or interest (the most memorable one in this case is a detective who spends a lot of on-duty time coordinating his hobby of ral ...more
Just what the world needed--another Scandinavian crime novel series featuring an incorruptible if occasionally eccentric police detective who must solve a baffling bunch of murders. "Nights of Awe" is, I believe, the first of a series of books that feature Ariel Kafka, "one of only two Jewish policemen in Finland". He is smart, a bit alienated but, in this case he doesn't have a failed or failing marriage and delinquent or addicted kids to worry about. One of the blurbs says that the author, "un ...more
Inspector Ari Kafka of the Helsinki Police sees himself firstly as a cop, secondly as a Finn and thirdly as a Jew. Nevertheless, his cultural heritage insinuates itself strongly, with occasional humour, in this case of multiple murders which may or may not be linked to a terrorist cell. There is lots of ‘action’ but we see it only after the fact, through his eyes. As the body count rises and the evidence becomes more and more muddled it can be a struggle to keep track of all the players. Like pi ...more
More like 3 1/2 stars, really. Ariel Kafka is a classic city cop, cynical, a little jaded, think Lennie Briscoe, but in Helsinki. Two dead Arab bodies are found on a railroad track. The investigation leads to two more bodies in an auto repair shop owned by an Iraqi man. Is it a terrorist thing, a drug thin, or a bit of both? The national Security police get involved, as does the Mossad. It's complicated, and confusing at times, but an interesting set of plot twists.

Some of Ari's Jewish family an
3 plus rating for a series that is new to me, and so far has only two translated books.
This book was enjoyable in part because it didn't include much of a gratuitous love interest as so many mysteries do. In fact, it rather pointedly didn't. However, the storyline was a bit confusing and the characters underdeveloped. I like my mysteries to be rather 'beach reading' difficulty - pleasant stories which are plausible. This was plausible, of course, but it was challenging. That being said, I enjoyed the writing style and imagery, and will give this author further reading.
Suzanne van de Velde
Sardonic and Engrossing

This is the first book by Nykanen that I've read. Glad I discovered this series and I'll get the next one soon. Kafka narrates and his sardonic sense of humor adds a lot.
I withheld the fifth star because there were too many characters and not quite enough characterization of some of them so I had some trouble keeping track of all of them, but overall a satisfying new discovery.
Mar 03, 2012 Martina rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Martina by: Meryl Zegarek
Ariel Kafka, an inspector with Helsinki's Violent Crime Unit and one of two Jewish policeman in Finland, investigates a series of deaths. The motives could be anything from gang warfare to a terrorism plot from abroad. The local Jewish community, the Arab community, Mossad, and Finnish Security Police all feature in this complex plot which develops in the days prior to Yom Kippur. Another fascinating series from Bitter Lemon Press. Book releases in the US April 30, 2012.
I am admittedly not a mystery fan overall...this felt like it was trying to be Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but just wasn't that good.
Perfectly enjoyable Finnish crime novel with a conceit that is well-done rather than gimmicky: the protagonist is the only Jewish police officer in Finland. Happily, his Jewishness, which is central to the plot, is used sensitively and evenhandedly--no schtick here. A little less Ominously Wintery than a lot of Scandinavian crime fiction, and that's ok too.

This is not the most suspenseful book you'll ever read, but worth a look-in.
Tuomo Polo
Erittäin mielenkiintoinen lähtöasetelma ei muutu pettymykseksi. Nykänen kuljettaa juutalaisuuden kiemuroita mukana läpi teoksen. Kokonaissudessaan juoni keriytyy lopussa hienosti yhteen, vaikka matkan varrella meinasin useasti eksyä nimien sekamelskaan. Lukemisessa meni aikaa eli ehkä tietynlainen koukuttavuus puuttui. Toisaalta tarinaa oli aina mukava jatkaa.
Ellis Shuman
It's hard to keep track of all the characters with their Finnish names and the subplots, but the story moves along quickly. After finishing the book (Finnishing the book...) I am not quite sure what happened. Still, the fact that this was a Jewish detective in Finland, with a family and traditions to deal with, kept me interested and reading.
Ariel Kafka is a Finn first, a policeman second and a Jew third. So when his brother and cronies try to pick his brain about a string of murders, Ariel won’t talk. I had trouble following the plot of Nights of Awe, in spite of enjoying Ariel, his colleagues, and the other wacky characters in this book.
A little too densely plotted, combined with all the Finnish and Middle-Eastern names, makes for a heavy read. Don't get bogged down go with the flow, skim the few parts that attempt to add depth to the characterization, and you'll find this a quick read, if not an entirely satisfactory one.
☔Diane S.
Although the lead character, detective has a rather sarcastic sense of humor, this Noir thriller just didn't grab me. I'm not sure if it was all the dialogue, without much background, but even though it was quite twist with the reveal held until the end, this just ended up being just okay for me.
This was very confusing: too many characters, plot too convoluted, too many vehicles. Surely this mystery could have been written with a view to pruning the complexity. I think this was his first novel, but I really expect a better effort from a journalist.
Jer Hogan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A Jewish Finnish policeman...involved in issues which impact both Jewish and Arabic citizens (both in Finland and from their respective countries). Interesting. Love the name of the policeman -- Kafka.
Different and enjoyable.
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Harri Nykänen has been a long-time crime journalist for the largest Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, and is now a full time author. He won the Finnish crime fiction award "The Clue" both in 1990 and in 2001.
More about Harri Nykänen...

Other Books in the Series

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Raid And The Blackest Sheep Paha paha tyttö Behind God's Back Raid ja poika Raid ja pelkääjä

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