Bestselling author Leena Lehtolainen celebrates her 50th birthday

Lehtolainen bday Mar2014Leena Lehtolainen, who got her first novel published at the age of 12 in 1976, has enjoyed a long, industrious and internationally successful career. Most famous for her 12-part Maria Kallio series, she has authored more than 20 books and become known for injecting a strong female perspective into hard-boiled crime narratives. In total her books have sold more than 2 million copies, and have been translated to 29 languages. Today Lehtolainen celebrates her 50th birthday. We wish her our warmest congratulations!

“The further I travel, the more I am also representing Finland…people want to know if my books tell the truth about Finnish society,” Lehtolainen says in an extensive interview published today in Finland’s largest newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat. “In particular I try to consciously keep my Maria Kallio novels as Finnish as possible.”

In the interview Lehtolainen also says that Germany has her strongest international fan base. The Devil’s Cubs (Paholaisen pennut, Tammi 2012), the conclusion to her Bodyguard trilogy starring tough but haunted Finnish bodyguard Hilja Ilveskero, was published in Germany in January of 2014 by Rowohlt as Das Nest des Teufels. Listen to a recent interview with Lehtolainen on Germany’s NDR radio here.

Helsingin Sanomat also features a video of Lehtolainen reading a Finnish excerpt from The Devil’s Cubs. Read the interview and see the video (both in Finnish) here.

The 12th entry in the Maria Kallio series, Iron Triangle (Rautakolmio, Tammi), was published in Finland in August of 2013, and rose immediately onto the Finnish bestseller lists. It will be published in Germany by Rowohlt in September 2014. The ninth book in the series, Snow Woman (Luminainen, Tammi 1996), was published by Tokyo Sogensha in Japan in 2013 and is due for an October, 2014 publication in the U.S by Amazon. The first book in Lehtolainen’s Bodyguard trilogy (Henkivartija, Tammi 2009) will be published in the U.S by Amazon in November of this year.

Lehtolainen’s latest book, A Life in Six Scenes (Kuusi kohtausta Sadusta, Tammi 2014) will be published in Finland this fall. This standalone psychological mystery represents a departure from Lehtolainen’s crime novels.

The Bodyguard Trilogy:
ARMENIA, Guitank
FRANCE, Hachette Livre
GERMANY, Rowohlt
NETHERLANDS, Unieboek | Het Spectrum
RUSSIA, Azbooka-Atticus
SPAIN, Destino
TAIWAN, Linking
TURKEY, Nemesis
Original publisher: Finland, Tammi

The Maria Kallio series:
BRAZIL, Autentica
GERMANY, Rowohlt
GREECE, Livani
JAPAN, Tokyo Sogensha
LATVIA, Zvaigzne
SPAIN, Destino
TAIWAN, Linking
TURKEY, Bizim Kitaplar
TV RIGHTS, Studio Hamburg
Original publisher: Finland, Tammi

Leena Lehtolainen’s works have also been published in (rights reverted): ALBANIA, CHINA, THE CZECH REPUBLIC, ESTONIA, ITALY, LITHUANIA, THE NETHERLANDS, ROMANIA, SLOVAKIA, UKRAINE


About author

Leena Lehtolainen

Leena Lehtolainen is the top female crime author in Finland: her new titles always head straight to #1 on the Finnish bestseller lists.

Lehtolainen created her successful protagonist, detective Maria Kallio, in 1993. Having already featured in 16 novels and a complete TV series, a new Maria Kallio TV reboot series was launched in Fall 2021 on C More. Lehtolainen’s novels have been translated into 30 languages and have sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide.

And just like the events in Bodyguard, a that takes the heroine Hilja Ilveskero all around Europe, Lehtolainen’s own work takes her to book festivals, exhibitions and other events across the globe.

Leena Lehtolainen has also published outside the crime genre; her book The Charm of Figure Skating was voted sports book of the year 2010 in Finland, and A Life in Six Scenes showed her return to literary fiction.

The Crossing of the Green Dragon is her first title for YA audiences.

In her free time, Lehtolainen enjoys all kinds of music and follows lynx trails in the forests – just like Maria Kallio.


2023, Crime & Suspense

A Crossing in the Darkness

Leena Lehtolainen

2022, Young Adult (13 or 14+)

The Crossing of the Green Dragon

Leena Lehtolainen

2021, Crime & Suspense

The Lynx Factor

Leena Lehtolainen

2020, Crime & Suspense

The Ripple Effect

Leena Lehtolainen

2019, Crime & Suspense


Leena Lehtolainen

2018, Crime & Suspense

The Killer's Girlfriend

Leena Lehtolainen

2017, Crime & Suspense

The End of Innocence

Leena Lehtolainen

2016, General Nonfiction, Memories & Biographies

The Charm of Ice

Leena Lehtolainen

2016, Crime & Suspense

The Eye of the Tiger

Leena Lehtolainen

2015, Crime & Suspense

A Stroke of Sadness

Leena Lehtolainen

2013, Crime & Suspense

The Iron Triangle

Leena Lehtolainen

2012, Crime & Suspense

The Devil's Cubs

Leena Lehtolainen

2011, Crime & Suspense

The Lion of Justice

Leena Lehtolainen

2010, Crime & Suspense

Where Have All the Young Girls Gone

Leena Lehtolainen

2009, Crime & Suspense

The Bodyguard

Leena Lehtolainen

2008, Crime & Suspense


Leena Lehtolainen

2005, Crime & Suspense

The Nightingale Murder

Leena Lehtolainen

2003, Crime & Suspense

Below the Surface

Leena Lehtolainen

2000, Crime & Suspense

Before I Go

Leena Lehtolainen

1998, Crime & Suspense

Fatal Headwind

Leena Lehtolainen

1997, Crime & Suspense

Death Spiral

Leena Lehtolainen

1996, Crime & Suspense

Snow Woman

Leena Lehtolainen

1995, Crime & Suspense

Copper Heart

Leena Lehtolainen

1994, Crime & Suspense

Her Enemy

Leena Lehtolainen

1993, Crime & Suspense

My First Murder

Leena Lehtolainen