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Genre Genre Genre

Finlandia

A brutal murder in dark and frigid Lapland tests Inspector Kari Vaara's skills and mettle.

Book Cover Having read a number of crime stories by Scandanavian writers (Peter Høeg, Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo), I am wondering what the fuss is about, and moreover what the components of the Scandanavian genre are.

Leaving such analytic concerns aside, another writer is joining the rising tide of north-country pulp fiction flooding our shores—James Thompson (Jim Thompson outside the U.S.), expatriate American living in Finland, weighs in with Snow Angels (GP Putnam).

Inspector Kari Vaara’s jurisdiction is in remote Lapland just above the Arctic Circle. Not only a geography of extreme cold but subject to the months of extended days and nights that are a feature of far-north life—if that doesn’t make its citizens crazy it clearly drives them to alcoholism. A beautiful actress—an immigrant from Somalia—is gruesomely despoiled and brutally murdered. For what it’s worth we learn that 85% of the world’s serial murderers reside in the U.S.A. Anyway, this crime—we are lead to believe—may have far reaching national implications. Thus Vaara is subject to numerous pressures. Not the least of which are that the chief suspect of this heinous crime is the husband of his ex-wife.

Inspector Kari Vaara, of course, has a past that haunts him and also gives this crime story ballast. As Peter Høeg points out, “Vaara is at the same time dangerous and human, his world cold, barren, yet intriguingly exotic, his story fast, brutal, yet told with a sort of laid-back calm.”

Thompson has is already well on his way, having published Across the Green Line (set in Jerusalem), The True Name of God (set in Russia), and a Kari Vaara sequel, Dead of Winter, outside the U.S. Snow Angels is an auspicious beginning in this country.
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