The Finnish Whodunnit Society
was founded in 1984 as a cover (not covert!) organization for all friends of detective stories and crime fiction, for the purpose of promoting this literary genre and arranging various events concentrating on murder and mayhem in their fictional form.
Our emblem depicts Finland's most famous fictional sleuth, Detective Inspector Palmu of the Helsinki CID, as portrayed in four feature films of the 60s by the actor Joel Rinne, who immortalized the bowler, the muffler, and the cigar into an immediately recognizable figure. Originally, the Palmu character was a creation of the internationally acclaimed novelist Mika Waltari for his award-winning début mystery of 1939, Kuka murhasi rouva Skrofin? (trans. into French as Qui a tué Mme Skrof?; also into Swedish, German and other European languages). Another Palmu detective novel followed immediately the next year, whereas the third and final one appeared only after a hiatus of 22 years, boosted by the successful filmatizations of the first two stories.
To promote and encourage domestic crime writing, a national prize for the best deed in the field (so that other media besides literature were eligible) was founded in 1985. The Clew of the Year celebrated its 20th anniversary in the spring 2005, with the corpus delicti of the trophy itself , a foot-high wood relief depicting Inspector Palmu, that changes hands annually, plus a diploma thumb-printed in the presence of a police officer and an engraved ceramic plate for keeps. More than a dozen international authors – among them Colin Dexter, Patricia Highsmith, Michael Dibdin, Karin Fossum, Håkan Nesser and Henning Mankell –, as well as individual titles, have also received a special commendation awarded usually for sustained excellence and/or significant contribution to the genre.
The Society publishes a quarterly journal, the Ruumiin kulttuuri (the name is a pun on 'Body Culture'), which consists of articles on crime fiction, author profiles and interviews, bibliographies, current news, and a comprehensive review section, the "Kirjakäräjät", or 'Capital Sentences'. The contents also include topical notes on thrillers on the silver and home screens as well as on stage, not to forget genre-related events also in other media, TV and radio.
The Society has gradually developed a publishing series of its own, with centenary celebrations of three cornerstone figures within the genre, Agatha Christie (1990), Dorothy L. Sayers (1993), and Dashiell Hammett (1994). Fourthly, there appeared, in collaboration with the Book Studio publishers, a collection of 12 essays by Finnish experts on contemporary crime writers, Murha ei tunne rajoja ("Murder, Unlimited", 1997), ranging from such versatile authors as Eric Ambler, Patricia Highsmith, Mickey Spillane and Sjöwall-Wahlöö to the new talents of Lawrence Block, Ingrid Noll, Elizabeth George and Jerome Charyn. Pulpography (2000) by Juri Nummelin is an extensive study of American pulps published in Finnish translation 1936–89. Most recently, for the Society's 20th anniversary, a herd of 15 crime writers were rounded up to contribute a chapter each for the first ever serial thriller of its kind: Kultainen peura ("The Golden Reindeer") is a breathless on-the-road cross-country escapade from Lapland to Helsinki involving a heist gone wrong at the Midnight Sun Film Festival.
Besides literary delights, our stock includes other promotional commodities, such as the official Society T shirts and pins, pillowcases with apt nocturnally sinister titles, and now also postcards.
The Society, which is a non-profit organization based in Helsinki, has currently over 1 000 members from all over the country – readers, authors, translators, journalists and critics, collectors and publishers.
Why not join yourself? Affiliate members are more than welcome, and the annual membership / subscription fee is only 40 euro + postage and handling for overseas customers.
Latest issue of the 'Ruumiin kulttuuri'.
Actor Joel Rinne as DI Palmu.
The Clew of the Year Trophy.
The Finnish Whodunnit Society
P.O. Box 284, 00531 Helsinki, Finland
Society: Leena Korsumäki (leena.korsumaki(at)welho.com)
Magazine Ruumiin kulttuuri: Keijo Kettunen (ruumiin.kulttuuri(at)dekkariseura.fi)
Web pages: Olli Turunen (olli.turunen(at)toviadesign.fi)