Jussi Vares

Created by Reijo Mäki

Some Finnish writers have tried to copy the American hard-boiled writers of the forties and fifties, but the results have been mostly preposterous. Finnish crime literature usually focuses more on police procedurals, or the psychological and sociological fallout from crime. One writer, Reijo Mäki (pronounced like 'macky'), however, has given the private eye novel a shot or two. He has a PI called JUSSI VARES. He's your regular hard-boiled PI: he drinks, makes love, hates everyone, and gets beaten up and mugged on a regular basis.

The books have been criticized for being male chauvinist, sexist and racist, but Mäki denies the accusations and says that he hates them all. The books have also been criticized for concentrating too much on Vares drinking (he has also his own cocktail guide) and having too many bad one-liners. Mäki tells these one-liners himself, too -- he's a celebrity in his home town, Turku, where you can catch him in his favourite bar, Apteekki.

Mäki also wrote at least one novel, Kruunun vasikka, featuring undercover cop Sakari Roivas, who works for the Swedish police (although his name is Finnish...). The title, literally translated, is "the crown's calf," but vasikka is also a police term for a snitch (ie. an informer), and kruunu ("crown") refers to the connection to the government. And, unlike Finland, Sweden is a constitutional monarchy...

AND THEN...

Vares proved so popular in Finland that in 2004 a film was released, starring Juha Veijonen as the detective, and directed by Aleksi Mäkelä, considered by many to be the number one action-director in Finland. A second film appeared a few years later, and the two films' success have led to a series of made-for-television movies.

NOVELS

The names in English sound very noir! Jussi Vares may not appear in all the books. I'm working on it.

  • Enkelipölyä (Angel Dust; 1985)
  • Moukan peli (Pawn's Game; 1986)
  • Satakieli lauloi yöllä (Nightingale Sang at Night; 1987)
  • Marraskuu on musta hauta (November is a Black Grave; 1988)
  • Sukkanauhakäärme (The Suspender Snake; 1989)
  • Jäätynyt enkeli (The Frozen Angel; 1990)
  • Kuoleman kapellimestari (The Conductor of Death; 1991)
  • Rahan kääntöpiiri (Tropic of Money; 1995)
  • Tatuoitu taivas (The Tattooed Heaven; 1997)
  • Pimeyden tango (Tango of Darkness; 1997)
  • Vares ja kaidan tien kulkijat (Vares and the Wanderers of the Narrow Path; 1998)
  • Pahan suudelma (Kiss of Evil; 1999)
  • Keltainen leski (The Yellow Widow; 1999)
  • Mullan maku (The Taste of Dust; 2000)
  • Kolmastoista yö (The Thirteenth Night; 2001)
  • Pitkä lounas (The Long Lunch; 2002)
  • Black Jack (2003)
  • Huhtikuun tytöt (The April Girls; 2004)

COLLECTIONS

  • Aito turkki (Real Fur; 2001)

FILMS

  • VARES, PRIVATE EYE...Buy the DVD
    (2004, Solar Films)
    In Finnish
    Based on the novel Keltainen leski by Reijo Mäki
    Screenplay by Pekka Lehtosaari
    Directed by Aleksi Mäkelä
    Produced by Markus Selin
    Starring Juha Veijonen as JUSSI VARES
    Also starring Laura Malmivaara, Jari Halonen, Jorma Tommila, Pekka Valkeejärvi, Kari Hietalahti, Jasper Pääkkönen, Santeri Kinnunen, Markku Peltola, Tuula Nyman

  • V2: DEAD ANGEL...Buy the DVD
    (2007, Solar Films)
    In Finnish
    Based on the novel Jäätynyt enkeli by Reijo Mäki
    Screenplay by Marko Leino
    Directed by Aleksi Mäkelä
    Produced by Markus Selin
    Starring Juha Veijonen as JUSSI VARES
    Also starring Hannu-Pekka Bjorkman, Jussi Lampi, Johanna Kokko, Lotta Lindroos, Kari-Pekka Toivonen, Pekka Huotari

TELEVISION

  • VARES, PRIVATE EYE
    (2011-12 [Finland])
    In Finnish
    Based on characters created by Reijo Mäki
    Writers: Pekka Lehtosaari
    Directors: Anders Engström, Lauri Törhönen
    Starring Antti Reini as JUSSI VARES
    Also starring Eppu Salminen, Matti Onnismaa

  • Season One...Buy the DVD
  • "The Kiss of Evil" (2011)
  • "The Girls of April" (2011).
  • "Garter Snake" (2011).

  • Season Two...Buy the DVD
  • "The Path of the Righteous Men" (2012)
  • "Gambling Chip" (2012)
  • "Tango of Darkness" (2012)

ALSO OF INTEREST...

  • Jussi Vareksen drinkkiopas ("The Cocktail Guide of Jussi Vares"; 2003)

RELATED LINKS

More eyes from northern Europe...

Respectfully submitted by Juri Nummelin. Additional info by Vesa Lehtinen and Kevin Burton Smith.


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