When the King Dies

When the king dies

Rights sold:

WORLD ENGLISH: HarperCollins

CROATIA: Planetopia
ESTONIA: Rahva Raamat
FINLAND: Gummerus
FRANCE: Editions Leduc.s

Original title: Kun kuningas kuolee

Author: Elina Backman

Illustrator: Elina Backman

Published: 2020 May

Publisher: Otava

Class/genre: Crime & Thriller

Pages: 495


Winner of Elisa Audio Book Award 2020: The Best Debut of the Year
Nominated for BookBeat Audio Book Awards 2020: The Best Debut of the Year

Reading material

Long English sample & synopsis

Download reading materials

Opening of a new detective series, that became an international hit within weeks!

Saana has been fired from her job as a click-bait journalist, so she decides to spend a summer with her aunt in a small-town Hartola. It sounds like a perfect opportunity to take it easy and recover. But when Saana begins to dig into a case of a teenage girl who died 30 years earlier, the peace of the small town is shaken.

Meanwhile in Helsinki a fire-marked body is be found at Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, and crime investigator Jan Leino and his team have a new case in their hands. However, the investigation isn’t going anywhere, and Jan fears that the murder at King’s Gate a is just the beginning…

Saana and Jan continue working on their own cases until their paths cross for more than one reason.


Coming up: Book #2 Isle of Sheep coming in June 2021

Rights sold:

FINLAND (orig.): Otava
ESTONIA: Varrak (2-book-deal)
GERMANY: Piper Verlag (2-book-deal)
NETHERLANDS: Cargo/De Bezige Bij (2-book-deal)
NORWAY: Cappelen Damm (2-book-deal)
POLAND: Czarna Owca
SWEDEN: Bokfabriken (2-book-deal)

TV RIGHTS: Aurora Studios


Foreign covers

Review links

”We are honored to introduce Elina Backman, the new rising star of Nordic crime, to the Czech readers. We believe that they will just love her debut and she will join the ranks of already established authors, because in one word ― her first work is just captivating! ”
– Tereza Macibobová, Head of translated fiction, Grada, Czech Republic

”A new star on the Nordic crime scene. With a real page-turner that keeps the readers on their toes until the end.”
– Henrik Lindvall, Publisher, Bokfabriken, Sweden

”We are simply delighted to have Elina Backman on our crime list!! Her debut Kun kuningas kuolee is smart, confident, exciting, elegant, entertaining and more!”
– Ida Cleve, Editor, Cappelen Damm, Norway

“Elina Backman is a very exciting addition to our crime list and we are very proud to be able to publish her. With the fantastic WHEN THE KING DIES and the plans for her second book already in development we have every confidence she is more than capable of becoming as popular as authors such as Jo Nesbø, Lars Kepler and Hjorth Rosenfeldt. Dutch and Flemish readers love high quality crime fiction from Scandinavia, and Elina Backman is one of the most exciting new voices we have recently come across.”
– Chris Kooi, Acquiring Editor, Cargo/De Bezige Bij, the Netherlands


”You know an excellent crime novel when you have finished it and immediately would love to start again. Also, you cannot wait to read the next parts of the series.
What really happened? There is a body, even two, there is a forgotten story, might be a revenge, a detective and all other things necessary for a perfect crime novel. The solution becomes more complicated and new hints will give the reader more to ponder about.
Another strength of this title is the fact that it takes place in two different timelines, that the author knows her background and history that’s nice to imbibe. The modern times are also present as is a drug lord, but for a change not in a gruesome Nordic Noir way.”

– Piret Saluri, translator of Finnish literature, Estonia


”A star is born!”

– Ilta-Sanomat newspaper


”Backman keeps the multiple storylines effortlessly together and builds an entertaining summery detective story. – – When the King Dies is the beginning of a new series, and it is flowy, exciting and skillfully written novel that leaves you wanting for more.”

– Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, May 15th 2020


“I devoured Elina Backman’s debut novel, hoping that it never ends!”

Turun Sanomat newspaper 9.6.


“Elina Backman’s debut works like a crime novel should: it separates you from normal life and forces you to try to solve the slowly unwinding case. Excellent literary snack!”

Gloria magazine


”When the King Dies shows that Backman knows her genre very well. The plot moves on and the reader gets just enough clues to  keep them guessing whether they will take them closer to solving the case or are they just a decoy.”

Tuijata. Kulttuuripohdintoja. Blog


”When the King Dies is pleasurable to read. The plot is full of surprises, a lot is going on, and there’s a great cast of characters. I thought more than once that I had guessed the ending, but I was wrong each time. The end comes with a surprise!”

– Kirjojen kuisketta blog


“When The King dies is an excellent summer crime. Short chapters, great characters, suspense, a dash of romance and the wonderful Finnish summer! Entertaining beginning of a series! This hooked me up completely. 5/5 stars!”

Kassukan lukupäiväkirja blog


“The plot and references to kings and kingdoms are exciting, and the summery town of Hartola brings a nice atmosphere to the story. The setting with a professional police and an amateur detective works very well! Great choice for those who look for a summery crime novel.”

Kirsin book club blog


YLE public broadcast recommends: When the King Dies by Elina Backman

Yle’s book podcast 5.6.2020


“Great mix of romance, crime, normal life and mysteries! It is entertaining, brain-teasing and suspenseful! Is this a future crime queen?!”

Sanapari blog


When the King Dies is a pleasure to read / listen. Plot is smart and full of surprises. Many times I thought I guessed the ending, but I was wrong each time. – – I hope I don’t have to wait too long for the next book!”

Visit Hartola website


“Wow, DEFINITELY the most delicious detective novel of this spring has been published!”

Between the lines blog




Elina Backman

Elina Backman, 37, is a media & marketing professional living in Helsinki, in an old wooden 1920 house with a family of 2 kids and a husband. Elina loves books (all sorts), travelling, cycling and is a host of a Book & Wine Club. She is a creative soul with a commercial mind, and her goal is to find readers globally – her dream is a Netflix series based on her novels.

Her debut novel When the King Dies was published in May 2020 and has immediately gained an enormous amount of attention from the Finnish media, including a praising review by the biggest daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat and becoming an immediate bestseller in Finland with 10,000 copies sold in all formats. When the King Dies has been to-date sold in 11 territories and international TV series is in development.


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