I’m guessing that Sofia Oksanen is one of the emerging Scandinavian crime novelists that have emerged since the success of Stieg Larsson’s books (which I still haven’t read); and this novel has recieved a fair bit of positive praise; however, I wasn’t really overly impressed by the novel.However, it did have some plus points. I enjoyed the insight into Estonian history, which I had literally no knowledge of (I have very little knowledge of the country at all). The grim realities of Soviet occupation; the constant threat of being pulled up for ‘questioning’ and dominance of the cruel ideologies were really well portrayed. The start of the novel, with Aliide’s suspicion of Zara is really well done and Oksanen’s writing keeps the plot moving along quite well, even if you are not necessarily all that attached to the story like myself. There were times when the prose itself was really very nice, although I think sometimes the translation (by Lola Rogers) maybe removed some of the more poetic aspects of the novel.However, I did have some problems with the two central characters. Zara as a character isn’t really well developed; we little by little learn about her history but not very much; Oksanen tends to focus on Aliide, the character who was alive during the occupation. However, despite following more of Aliide I struggled to find much empathy with her. She goes through some horrendous ordeals, but her obsession with Hans, her sister’s husband, is kind of a car crash as she is entirely motivated to please him, and preserve herself, as opposed to showing any kind of care towards her sister or niece.Despite Purge’s relative merits, the lack of strong characters for me really alienated me from the unremitting bleakness of the novel.