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Mäki, Reijo

Entry updated 9 January 2023. Tagged: Author.

(1958-    ) Finnish author of horror and thrillers, primarily known for his long-running Vares series, which pastiches American hard-boiled fiction and classic Westerns in an incongruous contemporary Finnish setting. Although little of his work has been translated, he remains one of the most recognizable Pulp fiction novelists in his native country, becoming a Mainstream Writer of SF with the seventeenth Vares novel Hard Luck Cafe (2006). Whereas all other instalments take place in present-day Turku, this single story chronicles a Near Future beset by Climate Change, where ritualized euthanasia is regarded as an easy way out. Jussi Vares is a lonely old man, the once-green public parks of Turku have been turned into shanty towns for refugees, and the European Union is drifting into authoritarianism and fascism. Although nothing more is said about this sudden flash-forward to the mid-twenty-first century, the later novel Sheriffi (2012 trans Katriina Kitchens as The Sheriff 2015) features a hallucinatory sequence in which Vares sees himself tied to a bed in a mental hospital while a nurse reads him newspaper headlines about catastrophic flooding on the Finnish coast. It raises the tantalizing prospect that Hard Luck Cafe was not a dream at all, but that much of the rest of the series was, or will ultimately be revealed as, a Fabulation to distract its ageing protagonist from his grim, Dystopian existence. [JonC]

Reijo Juhani Mäki

born Siikainen, Finland: 12 October 1958

works (selected)



  • Hard Luck Cafe (Helsinki, Finland: Otava, 2006) [Vares: binding unknown/]
  • Sheriffi (Helsinki, Finland: Otava, 2012) [Vares: binding unknown/]
    • The Sheriff (Independence, Minnesota: Ice Cold Crime, 2015) [trans by Katriina Kitchens of the above: Vares: pb/Joanna Górecka]


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