A classic murder mystery from Finland’s much-loved Mika Waltari
Inspector Palmu, a gruff 60-year-old who works for the Helsinki Police Department, is perhaps Finland’s most loved detective character. In this biting murder mystery, he sets out to solve the murder of Mrs. Skrof, a rich and unpopular widow who is found dead in her Helsinki flat following a gas leak.
Although his junior detective, the book’s protagonist, thinks it was an accident, Inspector Palmu is not so sure. His list of suspects includes Kirsti, Mrs. Skrof’s stepdaughter; Kalle, an acrobatic pilot; Kurt, a surrealist painter; and Pastor Mustapää, the charismatic leader of an extreme Protestant sect. Inspector Palmu visits each of his suspects in turn in an attempt to piece together an account of what happened to Mrs. Skrof.
Offering readers a chance to explore a pre-war Helsinki, Mika Waltari’s much-loved murder mystery is considered a cult classic in Finland. The relationship between Inspector Palmu—who has a weakness for damsels in distress—and his junior has been likened to Doyle’s Watson and Holmes. Who Murdered Mrs. Skrof? is the first book in a trilogy that follows Inspector Palmu and includes Inspector Palmu’s Mistake and It is Written in the Stars, Inspector Palmu!
Who Murdered Mrs. Skrof? was made into a film in 1961 by Matti Kassila and a play for a summer theatre in Tampere in 2017 by Joel Elstelä.
Mika Waltari (1908-1979) is the most popular 20th century Finnish writer who is best known for his magnus opus The Egyptian. Over a career that spanned five decades, Waltari published well over 100 works, of which 200 translations have been made. His works include at least 30 novels, 20 plays and 15 novellas, as well as short stories, poems, screenplays and essays. In 1957 he was appointed to the Academy of Finland, having previously won the state literature award five times. Waltari’s works have been translated into over 40 languages.
English sample translation
Bulgarian (Narodna Mladez 1985)
Czech (Přátelé hodnotné detektivky 1940 & 1946 / Odeon 1989 / Euromedia 2012 / Knižni Klub 2014)
Danish (Steen Hasselbach 1939)
Dutch (H. P. Leopold 1940)
Estonian (Eesti kirjastuse kooperativ 1940 / Eesti Raamat 1994)
French (JC Lattès/Editions du Masque, 1952, 1970)
German (Signum Verlag 1963 / W. Kaser 1993)
Greek (Kalendis 2006)
Hungarian (Palladis 1941 / Sorger Kolon 1990)
Icelandic (Bókaútgáfan Esja 1939)
Italian (Garzanti 1955 / Iperborea 2013)
Norwegian (W. Cappelens forlag 1939)
Polish (Iskry 1968 / Wydawnictwo Literackie 2011)
Spanish (Novaro-Mexico 1958)
Swedish (Schildts 1939 / Wahlström & Widstrand 1950)
1939, Winner of the Nordic Detective Novel Competition
2004, Nominated for the Best Finnish Detective Novel (Finnish Whodunnit Society)
“…a fast-paced murder that takes place over a day.” – Jokken kirjanurkka blog
“I’m absolutely in love with this book… maybe it’s just because of the great Waltari himself – everything he wrote seems so exquisite to me! His skills are simply impressive. The story was also very well developed and I was quite surprised by the ending. I found the characters interesting and sophisticated… .All in all this book was very memorable and it has become one of my favourites! I highly recommend it!” – Goodreads reviewer