James Thompson - crime novels set in Finland


Just finished reading Helsinki Blood, the fourth novel about Inspector Kari Vaara. This one opens with him limping around his apartment, having been shot a total of four times in his life, most recently in the knee (again) and in the face (again) which makes it nearly impossible for him to do anything without first ingesting copious amounts of painkillers, tranquilizers, beer and Koskenkorva (Finnish Vodka). Also, his wife has left him, although she does return briefly to leave their baby with him before she leaves for the US, in a state of shock after all that happened in the fourth book, Helsinki White. Of course this still is not all. Vaara has a huge amount of money (also from what happened in the previous book, but which I will not discuss) and some unsavoury characters have it in for him because of that.


However, the story really gets going when he promises to find Loviise, a young Estonian woman with Down syndrome who most likely has been kidnapped by a Russian prostitution ring. That’s the thing about Kari Vaara – no matter how tough he is, he’s extremely chivalrous and has a strong sense of what is right. He’s also quite open-minded, not judgemental, and despite his seeming lack of emotions is very loyal to family and friends. 


Also I like the straightforward style of writing. This is Kari Vaara speaking right at the beginning of the novel:


June had come to and end. I seldom went out, mostly because mobility was so difficult, but it had been such a bad day – Kate had been gone for around two weeks, I was depressed and in awful pain – that I thought fresh air and sunshine might be good for me, help me gain some perspective. Mental health care workers often recommend just getting out and about to raise spirits. Dumbfucks. 


All four of the books deal with serious issues, from racial hatred to corrupt politicians to people trafficking to name just a few, and for those of you who have never been to Finland, it is not as depressing a place as it might seem after reading these novels!


The first in the series, Snow Angels, is set in Levi in Northern Finland and the rest take place in Helsinki.

These are the four novels in chronological order:

Snow Angels

Lucifer’s Tears

Helsinki White

Helsinki Blood

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