The Forest of the Hanged Foxes, Hirtettyjen kettujen metsä

By Arto Paasilinna, first published in 1983.

The reader only learns where the title comes from towards the end of the story. Which is intriguing. Do I ever say anything bad about Paasilinna’s books? Impossible, they are all, without exception, good, intelligent, humorous, amazing.

The story is about a criminal, a thief, Oiva Juntunen, who steals gold from a bank with some help of his colleagues, who turn out not to be very collegial when the main character doesn’t pay them the promised share as they go to prison for the crime but the boss doesn’t. So their reaction is quite intelligible.

Oiva decides to hide – himself and the gold – in Lapland, camps out in the middle of nowhere with close to zelo survival skills. He would die if he wasn’t rescued by a Major who happens to have some sort of military practice there. As the Major is sick of everything in his life, he decides to join the crazy man on the camping trip (unaware of the man’s origins and the reason he found him there in the first place) and suggests they stay in a lodge nearby. One thing leads to another and they start looking for gold. The thief, of course, doesn’t confide in the mate that he actually owns four blocks of gold (which he apparently effortlessly brought across the wetlands in a backpack. What is it with people and their sense of mass when it comes to gold??). They settle comfortably in the lodge and through a series of events get some company – three women and occasionally a local policeman. With the mentioned profiles we can expect comical situations which undoubtedly happen. The thief collegagues are after them and there are some foxes too…

Very intriguing story, good book. Quality time. 🙂

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