The year is 1979 and the Cold War is all but over in Helsinki, the playground of the Russian KGB, when a former British Navy officer Iain is asked to work undercover. He’s to investigate Vladislav Kovtun, a violent KGB spy, dubbed The Red King of Helsinki by the Finnish secret service. This is Iain’s first assignment, and when he discovers the bodies left in Kovtun’s wake, he quickly gets embroiled in danger.
Young student Pia has two goals in life: she dreams of a career in gymnastics and she wants Heikki, a boy in her class with the dreamiest blue eyes, to notice her. But she’s not a very good gymnast. At least not as good as her best friend, Anni, the daughter of an eminent Finnish Diplomat. But when her gym teacher announces there’s to be a competition with a Russian school, Pia is desperate to take part. Then her friend Anni goes missing, and against all odds, Pia is selected to take her friend’s place. Pia cannot let go of her dream, so she accepts the challenge but at the same time this young student turns feisty sleuth and begins to investigate what’s happened to her friend.
Unbeknown to Pia, Kovtun, The Red King of Helsinki, is watching her every move.
The object of Pia’s daydreams, Heikki is also watching her, and when, out of the blue, he makes a pass at her, Pia is dizzy with happiness. But after they share passionate kisses, Heikki begins to ask questions about her mother’s English boyfriend Iain, about Anni and about the gymnastics competition. Most puzzling of all, Heikki tells Pia not to take part. ‘It’s dangerous,’ he says.
In Helsinki, a city balancing on a knife edge between the mighty Russia in the East and the free West, a fist fight between the British MI5, the KGB, and The Finnish secret service is out of the question. Finns are desperate to keep their hard-won neutrality and Iain is told by British his spy masters not to get involved, but how can he watch from the sidelines when he sees Pia is in danger?
Nordic Noir meets Scandinavian spy fiction in this fast-moving Cold War tale set in Finland in the 1970s.
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