They Know Not What They Do

Finnish author Jussi Valtonen's They Know Not What They Do is a pulsing psychological thriller. In a near future, technological innovation gains speed and unscrupulous companies increase profits by targeting impressionable children.

A U.S. company markets medication through schools to help kids with their social skills. It also promotes a new device that maps a person's neural pathways, tailoring advertisements and entertainment to users without the use of a screen. Images simply appear in front them, allowing a teen to watch a movie while attending class. With his English-language debut, translated by Kristian London, Valtonen is clearly questioning whether faster and more convenient technology is always a good thing.

Joe Chayefski is an accomplished neurosurgeon who conducts vital research on laboratory animals. He lives in Baltimore with his second wife and two daughters. Many years earlier, Joe abandoned his first wife and son Samuel in Finland to pursue his career in the U.S. As vandals target Joe's laboratory and home, he begins to fear the worst--that Samuel, a well-known animal rights activist, has come to Baltimore to take revenge on his absentee father.

A perfect novel for our time, They Know Not What They Do is a satirical critique of our contemporary infatuation with innovation, fueled by corporate greed and a desire to do everything faster. With a sympathetic hand, Valtonen skillfully creates a perfect storm of ethical conundrums: animal rights, life-saving research, parental obligations, moral corruption and soul-destroying greed all tied into a cautionary tale about a man struggling with the consequences of his decisions. --Shahina Piyarali, writer and reviewer

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