Publication date
Johnny Kniga
Format info
382 pages

Reindeer Mafia


Never speak against the Family, ever

In Lapland the iron hand of the Nelihanka Family has governed over the Reindeer County of Utsjoki for as long as anyone can be bothered to remember.  The aging patriarch of this reindeer-rich crime dynasty, Jonás-Guhtur, is preparing to transfer the control of his clandestine empire to his firstborn son, Jyppyrä. Nothing has prepared the father for his oldest son’s betrayal.

Jyppyrä is not driven by greed like his father – but by a dream of fraternity, liberty and equality. Of reindeer herding without the poaching that drives the small-holders on the brink of starvation. He also dreams of a mate, like all the young men living in the North where the landscape is barren, also of women.

Jyppyrä does take the leadership, but not of his family business. Under the name of the Wolverine SC, a snowmobile club, Jyppyrä leads his crew of other womanless backwood boys in his quest to challenge the authority, livelihood and hegemony of their fathers. This far up North, the frontier law applies; anything goes – especially when the Cosa Nostra of the Far North meets its challenger the Wolverine SC. This hinterland war has the chance to change the Lappish lifestyle beyond all recognition.

Reindeer Mafia is an action-packed story about a family and power, set in the backdrop of the mystical and ruthless Lapland. Heikkinen proves his genious by taking a classic mafia story and cleverly transplanting it to Lapland – with its herds of reindeer, and vodka, with a drop of blood drunk at feasts. He stealthily smuggles in a serious bit of social criticism which brings the work to yet another new level. Mikko-Pekka Heikkinen has written a wonderfully biting satire laced with black humour which is sheer joy to read!



2017 shortlisted for the Lappi Literary Award
2017 shortlisted for the Finnish Literary Export Prize
2016 shortlisted for the Clue of the Year Prize


Reading material

English sample
English synopsis
Finnish edition


Rights sold

Czech (Argo)


Praise for the work from international publishers

“Finnish literature is very popular in the Czech Republic for many reasons, one of them being the fact that Finnish sense of humour is very close to that of the Czechs. It´s not the Hollywood-comedy-white-teeth humour but one which can be a bit rough, people poking fun at their own misery, knowing that the world never is black and white. Also, Finland has that perfect ratio of strangeness for the Czechs – it´s different enough to be fascinating, but similar enough to be understandable. To take a classic mafia story (the family clan ruled heavy-handedly by the patriarch, terrorizing the whole community) and transplant it to Lapland with its herds of reindeer, and vodka with a drop of blood drunk at feasts is a genius move if you want to make it on the Czech market. To stealthily smuggle in a serious bit of social criticism, and make it work brings the work to a whole new level. Reindeer Mafia is a sheer joy to read.” – Hana Zahradníková, Acquiring editor, Argo spol s.r.o


Praise for the work

“The work both lends from and and is a parody of the imagery of the classical mafia films. (…) The work is skillfully written and it has the features of a picaresque novel”. – Statement of the Jury, Lappi Literature Award

Reindeer Mafia is brimming with dynamic, thrilling action from the wildest North. On top of this, it offers an exciting picture of a traditional lifestyle at a turning point, of the bustle of modernity amidst vast nature. At least the thrill of revenge is a renewable resource, giving the strength to withstand the chill of winter, the lords of the south and the media, and even one’s neighbours. Tradition never fades away completely; something always endures, says Mikko-Pekka Heikkinen’s grimacing satire. After all, what could kill evil?” – Vesa Karonen, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper

“The nature of Lapland creates a strange and magical setting for the gang battles of hard-boiled crooks.” – Helsingin Sanomat newspaper

“The snow falls in October and melts in May. The rest of the time, we just pretend,” writes Mikko-Pekka Heikkinen, sounding for a moment just like Kari Hotakainen. But Heikkinen also sounds like Arto Paasilinna, and his hovel of a story could have been borrowed from something like Game of Thrones. [—] Heikkinen imagines a vivid underworld of Upper Lapland, and although he might not be serious at the level of the story, his expression certainly is. In Reindeer Mafia, the men mostly speak in glances, but their language is harsh. Just like Heikkinen’s.” ­– Kauppalehti Optio magazine

“In Reindeer Mafia, life in Lapland is like something from the Wild West. [—] Mikko-Pekka Heikkinen’s new book Reindeer Mafia flows colourfully and rejoicingly. [—] It is an imaginative frolic of the imagination, exploring Lapland, reindeer herding, biker gangs, the mafia and law and order. [—] Mikko-Pekka Heikkinen continues the strong beginnings of his literary career, with this newest work probably being the best in its class.” – Eero Marttinen, Kaleva newspaper

“Heikkinen’s characters are multidimensional, well carved-out and interesting. (…) His descriptions of nature, verbal skilfulness and stunning depictions of different personalities intertwine in a fascinating way. There is a wealth of humour in the characters and in the set-up, maybe taken to extremes, but the story is brutal. Although the world of the Sami people ultimately crashes and bangs à la James Bond, themes of love, thirst for power and betrayal flow strongly underneath. You end up laughing, although you should be weeping. All of this creates unquestionably Mikko-Pekka Heikkinen’s best novel to date.” ­– Anssi Lehtimäki, Pohjalainen newspaper

“Merely transposing the mafia genre into Lapland provides a humorous undertone, but in addition to that, Heikkinen injects his story with an unbelievable range of different modern gadgets and phenomena, adding an additional layer of comic to the novel. [–] It is evident that there is also a serious side to Reindeer Mafia, with social satire and a smattering of tragedy. [–] The story is sometimes quite a ruckus, but the author keeps hold of the reins, offering loads of entertainment and fantasy. “– Raija Hakala, Lapin Kansa newspaper

” [–] the novel begins to recall a four-act tragedy, where characters are prepared to sacrifice even their own children, the continuation of their bloodline, all for personal gain. Heikkinen’s novel is built on colourful wordplay. “– Päivi Alasalmi, Keskisuomalainen newspaper

“Heikkinen has written a skilful description of the clash between old and new culture in Lapland.” – Matti Tieaho, Kouvolan Sanomat newspaper