James Thompson- Snow Angels

Inspector Kari Vaara of Helsinki is thrown into a case that sees a beautiful young woman murdered in an apparent sadomasochistic attack… But his investigation leads to him coming up against a wall of silence that implicates the very highest levels of power. His previous case left Kari Vaara with a scarred face, chronic insomnia and a full body count’s worth of ghosts. A year later, in Helsinki, and Kari is working the graveyard shift in the homicide unit. Kari is drawn into the murder-by-torture case of Iisa Filippov, the philandering wife of a Russian businessman. Her lover is clearly being framed and while Ivan Filippov’s arrogance is highly suspicious, he’s got friends in high places. Kari is sucked ever deeper and soon the past and present collide in ways no one could have anticipated…
Inspector Kari Vaara is back who despite his move away from the Finnish backwater which saw some horrific events in the first book ‘Snow Angels’ again finds himself embroiled in murder and personal torment. Whilst juggling the demands of a particularly savage murder case, the investigation of possible war-crimes, a heavily pregnant wife, his truly irritating in-laws and his gung-ho new partner, he is also grappling with a deterioration in his own health which even he can’t assuage with copious amounts of kossu. I thoroughly enjoyed this follow-up novel and found it much more authentic in the terms of a Scandinavian style. I think it was far more apparent in the first book that Thompson is American and ‘Snow Angels’ had a slight feeling of an outsider looking in whereas this seemed more immersed in Finnish culture and more real somehow. Unlike  some other reviews of the book I have read I did not find the violence at all gratuitous, having read a lot worse in more established author’s works, and as for the accusation of it being pornographic, I think in my long experience of crime reading, many crime storylines are fuelled by sexual jealousy and crimes of passion. So all in all a good follow on thriller and looking forward to the next…

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