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|Arto Tuovinen (1933-1968)|
Finnish journalist, novelist, and translator. Tuovinen began his career as a juvenile books writer, but he also published spy novels with international flavor. Tuovinen's thrillers gained a critical success and became best-sellers, but he died too early, at the age of 35, and until the work of Ilkka Remes, he did not have successor in Finland in the field of fast-paced modern spy fiction. Tuovinen's hero was Boris Stolitsky, a devout and coldblooded servant of the Soviet intelligence, who had a weakness for vodka, beautiful women, and Western luxury.
"Stolitskyn kasvoille palasi ilmeetön kovuus hänen kulkiessaa Mir-kadun ylitse. Ihmiskunta pysyi samana. Kukin syntyi keskelle jotakin sen osaa, ja siihen hän kokemiensa mielihyvän tunteiden ja nautintojen myötävaikutuksella kiintyi. Hän alkoi kutsua omaa maapallon kaistalettaan isänmaaksi, vaikkei hänen isänsä olisi koskaan omistanut siitä maasta muruakaan, ja hän alkoi pitää kanssaan samaa kieltä puhuvia, samanlaisen syntymäsattuman tuloksia parempina ihmisiä kuin toisia." (from Muista minua tuonelassa, 1966)
Arto Tuovinen was born in Tammisaari, and educated in Helsinki at Vaasanrinne coeducational school. From 1953 he worked as a journalist for the newspaper Ilta-Sanomat, then for the family magazine Seura, and from 1965 to 1968 he was a staff member of the newspaper Uusi Suomi. Tuovinen died at the age of 35 in Helsinki, on August 17, 1968.
Tuovinen's first book, Me hiivimme öisin (1953), came out when he was only twenty years old. The boy scout story was followed Lare panee toimeksi (1956), also dealing with the adventurous scout life. Both were published by WSOY. Tuovinen's first mystery novel, Ei mitään menetettävää (1964), published by Karisto, introduced the inspector Valanne, who continued his adventures in Poikamiesten kotiliesi (1965). Before writing Nyrkki ja Neliapila (1961), a story about three boys who escape from a reformatory, Tuovinen familiarized himself with the subject, interviewing boys and teachers. Although in the background of the flight is an unjust teacher, Tuovinen is not criticizing the reformatory system. At the end the boys learn to respect the director of the institution, who turns out to be understanding and honest. " – Ja muistakaa, pojat, johtaja jatkoi puristettuaan myös Arvon kättä, – että jos teille joskus tulee vaikeuksia, te voitte aina tulla tänne tapaamaan minua tai vaikkapa kirjoittaa minulle. Minä olen aina valmis tekemään voitavani teidän auttamiseksi kunnon miehen pyrkimyksissä." (from Nyrkki ja Neliapila)
In 1966 Tuovinen created his heroical Soviet born spy, Boris Stolitsky, who broke the typical concept of spy fiction in which good guys from the West confront bad guys from the East. Stolistsky, however, was modelled after James Bond. Tuovinen's protagonist went out for in search of adventures in three books. Stolitsky likes to drink vodka, he doesn't believe in Lenin or Buddha, or the virgin birth, and his superiors consider him a misfit.
"-– Minulla ei ole teille, herra Borman, muuta sanottavaa, vastasi Stolitsky, - kuin ne sanat, jotka olen hartaasti halunnut lausua teille jo kauan.
In Muista minua tuonelassa (1966) a Finnish construction worker, Pertti Vaaja, is found dead on the road to Murmansk. He has been a member of a right-wing organization. Stolitsky reveals a secred nazi organization, run by Martin Bormann, Hitler's personal secretary who disappeared in the final days of World War II. Tervetuloa Moskovaan, Bormann (1967) continued the struggle between Stolitsky and Bormann, whose organization, Das Reich, now threatens to destroy the northern hemisphere if Germany is not united. The last book in the series, Rhodoksella polttaa, Boris Stolitsky (1968), dealt with trading in arms. Rhodos, the scene of the story, had became a highly popular target for Finnish tourists. Critics considered this last book in the series somewhat half-hearted. Politically Tuovinen's hero was not in conflict with Finland's foreign policy regarding the Soviet Union. Stolitsky was not a dissident but a cosmopolite with a gun. All the Stolitsky novels were published by Gummerus.
After Tuovinen's death it took over thirty years before a Finnish writer used successfully international bestseller formula and settings. Ilkka Remes's novel Pääkallokehrääjä (1997) took its influence from Tom Clancy, spy novels, and science fiction. It was followed in 1998 by Karjalan lunnaat, which established Remes as the forefront thriller writer in Finland.
As a translator Tuovinen focused on such writers as John Dickson Carr, Peter Cheyney, James Hadley Chase, Mickey Spillane, and Ian Fleming, who also influenced his own writing. Besides mystery novels, Tuovinen translated non-fiction, among others Gordon Lonsdale's memoirs, and Philippe de Vomécourt's history of the French Resistance during World War II.
Other Finnish mystery and thriller writers: Mauri Sariola, Marton Taiga, Outsider, Tauno Yliruusi, Matti Yrjänä Joensuu, Pentti Kirstilä, Juha Numminen, Leena Lehtolainen, Reijo Mäki. Note: The Bulgarian novelist Andrei Gulyashki invented in the 1960s an ace Russian spy named Avakum Zakhov. Gulyashki's book, Zakhov Mission (1966), was among others translated into Finnish and English. Compared to Tuovinen's hero, Zakhov was a much more proletarian figure, whose main mission in life seemed to be to destroy agent 07, a "decadent but handsome agent of a corrupt Western power."