An ambitious thriller that leaves no one unscathed.
It’s the usual story in Finland: a happy nuclear family, their finances in order, the parents employed, the children active and cheerful, always friendly – so the neighbors say. And yet on Christmas Eve the father kills the children in the wife’s presence, then the wife, and finally himself.
Crime journalist Lauri Kivi isn’t shocked by much, and although his hearing is damaged because of his own father’s violence, he sees more than most. This is why he’s the right man to write a major article about the rash of familicides plaguing Finland. Kivi personally finds the term “familicide” a grotesque affectation: these are murders. And he’s absolutely right. But in a much more horrific sense than he could ever imagine…
A cross-country tour of the scenes of the tragedies takes Kivi on a journey into his own past, into a crushing childhood and into the life of the daughter he has abandoned.
A bruising, black tale laced with biting humor, In Sheep’s Clothing is about violence that is passed down from one generation to the next, but also about forgiveness. Exceptionally ambitious in both language and theme, this is one crime story that spares no one – least of all the reader.
Dutch (Meulenhoff Boekerij)
French (Fleuve Editions)
German (Aufbau Verlag)
French reader’s report
“It’s safe to say that Hiltunen’s debut surpasses the annual iron rations of many a veteran crime novelist. The novel is a broad-based, carefully constructed study of evil.” – Helsingin Sanomat newspaper
“Finland’s gloomiest family novel.” – Helsingin Sanomat newspaper
“(…) superb depiction of evil.” – Turun sanomat newspaper
“In Sheep’s Clothing is one of the year’s most important and interesting debuts, and may well be the best.” – Turun Sanomat newspaper
“The rich, vibrant language is its most finely tuned sensory organ; nuanced vocabulary abounds. [–] The blackest corner of Finland’s suspense-novel firmament receives a new, living legend.” – Kaleva newspaper
“It is a story about evil, family ties (both good and bad), revenge, forgiveness, and—why not—also a story about love, even though it is sometimes difficult to grasp from amidst the grim events.” – Villasukka kirjahyllyssä literary blog
“In Sheep’s Clothing is one the finest novel of this year. Simo Hiltunen writes with an appropriate amount of gimmicks in his language — he writes with extreme honesty and in a rough manner. Dialogues may cause nausea to the most sensitive readers [–]. The novel is unembellished and that is precisely what makes it so strong and so realistic. As the author himself has stated [–] “unfortunately, life is sometimes even more horrifying than fiction.” On the other hand, In Sheep’s Clothing contains an adequate degree of warmth and comfort. It is always possible to choose one’s own path. Decide to act in another manner. To forgive. – Rakkaudesta kirjoihin literary blog
“Simo Hiltunen’s debut novel In Sheep’s Clothing is a vivid examination of the anatomy of evil. It is an exceptionally convincing first novel [–]. It cleverly expands the limits of the genre with its depth [–]. Hiltunen deals with moral themes but without moralizing [–]. The characters are extremely credible and alive with their problems and with their brokenness. Some black humour is mixed into the story, making the reader relax for a moment [–]. Hiltunen writes fluently and skillfully. He transports the reader to the border of multiple facets of evil and forces the reader to deeply reflect on the essence of evil.” – Järjellä ja tunteella literary blog
“In Sheep’s Clothing does not give, and it cannot give, an unequivocal answer to the question of why family murders have become a growing phenomenon in our society. However, it tells a strong story about how violence sprouts in the most unexpected places. It also makes us reflect on whether the biggest crime is the fact that we turn a blind eye to evil. Along with the tragic realism of the story runs a level of mythology related to wolves, which brings its own spirited tint to the novel. A fine and impressive debut! I am thirsty for more.” – Järjellä ja tunteella literary blog
“Simo Hiltunen doesn’t write about superheroes, but about real people wrestling with evil. Yes, this is a thriller for a large public, but it also gives the reader a lot of food for thought, while still being a real page turner!” – Publishing Director Maaike le Noble, Meulenhoff Boekerij
“The creation of Lauri [Kivi] is a master stroke of Simo Hiltunen. A crime reporter in the lead; which of course brings to mind Mikael Blomqvist of the late Stieg Larsson. (…) Hiltunen writes stylishly, his language is rich with beautiful descriptions, sharp dialogues, humor, but he is also dead serious. He manages to convey social themes such as familicides, crime, religion, loneliness and child-related matters with great compassion. Thrillzone, The Netherlands
“The story goes forward like a train and captivates the reader minute by minute. The plot is well thought out and finely constructed with surprising twists in between. It is amusing, sometimes shocking, but above all a pleasure to read. All the characters are explored well enough to make the story compelling and to make the reader believe in it. (…) In Sheep’s Clothing is a classic Scandinavian thriller. A Stieg Larsson level Scandinavian thriller, really! (…) Watch out, Sweden and Norway, Finland is here!” — FIVE STARS OUT OF FIVE — Thrillzone, The Netherlands
“Simo Hiltunen makes his debut with In Sheep’s Clothing and does it in an overwhelming fashion! (…) In Sheep’s Clothing is exciting. Incredibly exciting. Complex, deep-digging and particularly interesting.” — NINE STARS OUT OF TEN — Lekker lezen, The Netherlands
“In Sheep’s Clothing is a chillingly exciting, well-built and handsomely grounded psychological thriller. Simo Hiltunen’s debut novel exudes skill. It has been written as if he had been writing thrillers every day for years. The protagonist Lauri Kivi has something very authentic about him. Let’s hope that this book is the beginning of a series about Lauri Kivi. I definitely want to learn more about this particular journalist!” – Thrillers Leestafel
“In Sheep’s Clothing is not just a thriller with a killer and hunting that follows. No, it’s so much more. This book is also about influences from parents, upbringing and ageing, and it contains a wealth of psychological layers. (…) The novel is a debut, but it doesn’t feel like it. Simo Hiltunen has written an exciting and a compelling book. Every page is a delight to read. This is thrillers as they should be done. In Sheep’s Clothing can count itself among the top thrillers of 2016”. FIVE STARS OUT OF FIVE – Nadine Kuiper, To Read or Not to Read
“COUP DE COEUR !! J’ai adoré Si vulnérable. (…) Ce roman mêle d’une façon parfaite les éléments d’une enquête de police avec une intrigue qui tient en haleine jusqu’au bout, la psychologie des adultes martyrisés pendant l’enfance et qui ont été capables ou pas de résilience pour avancer dans leur vie, la vie en Finlande. Croyez-moi, vous allez plonger dans ce roman et ne plus le lâcher!” FIVE STARS OUT OF FIVE – Babelio