I freelance translate Finnish to English, as I am a native and fluent speaker of both languages. This short story is a promotional download for Ice Cold Crime, LLC, a publisher that brings Finland’s famous detective/crime novels to English speakers. I retained the author’s clipped and reserved tone, and translated the text precisely, while adding phrasing that clarified setting and cultural details specific to Helsinki, Finland for a U.S. audience.
Please visit Ice Cold Crime to download the full story.
Helsinki Homicide: Christmas on Duty
A short story by Jarkko Sipilä
“From heav’n on high I come to you, I bring to you glad tidings new, I bring to
you good tidings new…”
The congregation somberly dragged out the hymn, except for one older lady
wearing a fur coat, whose voice rose to opera pitch. Detective Lieutenant Kari
Takamäki wasn’t curious about her voice, but rather how she still managed to
keep on her fur coat.
Espoo’s fifteenth-century old gray-stone church was packed, as usual on
Christmas Eve. It was oppressively hot. Takamäki had folded his own navy
blue winter coat on his knees.
“Glad tiding of great joy I bring…”
Takamäki’s wife, Kaarina, sat on his left, and the two boys, stretched nearly to
adult heights, on his right. Christmas mass had been a family tradition for
Takamäki felt his cell phone vibrating in his sport coat. Luckily, he had
remembered to put it on vibrate, as his ring tone, a cruiser’s siren, would have
broken the mood of the service.
He dug the phone out anyway. Kaarina frowned at her husband, but kept
singing. The caller was Suhonen. The undercover officer’s specialty was
career-criminals and repeat
offenders. He was coming for Christmas dinner at the Takamäkis. Takamäki
hoped he wasn’t calling to cancel.
“To you this night was born a child…”
He couldn’t answer in the middle of the service. His phone flashed the time
and the screen went dark. Immediately, the screen started flashing again.
Suhonen again. What was wrong? Now he’d have to answer.
Takamäki squeezed out of the row, phone in hand, and headed to the back
door apologetically. Luckily, there was only one couple on the other side of his
The church yard was slush and mud, since the temperature had risen above
freezing just after it snowed a couple of days ago. Even the sky disregarded
Christmas and seemed frozen in November gray.
Two missed calls. Takamäki called Suhonen.