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Snow Angels by James Thompson

Snow Angels (2009)

by James Thompson

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4347024,268 (3.47)104
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    RidgewayGirl: Similar in tone, and with a bleak northern setting, Lost Girls is Canadian author Andrew Pyper's first book.

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“Instead of justice I got truth which was a poor substitute.”

Audiobook. Definitely not a tourist brochure for Finland. Right up front we are told of the Finnish racism, hatred for foreigners, especially Germans, the cold, the lack of light in the winter, and their penchant for alcohol and killing loved ones.

A Somali black movie star has been brutally murdered with a racial slur carved into her body.. The local inspector, Vaasa, married to an American ski resort manager, now pregnant with twins, knows he has political dynamite in this investigation. Suspects arrive in droves, and most of them are in the inspector’s circle. Admittedly, the town is small, but I was beginning to feel claustrophobic at the narrowness of his investigation. Mix in religious and cultural conflict and you have quite a melange. The Laestadian religion, a very conservative offshoot of Lutheranism, plays an important role in the book, as does the Koran. Both provide the motivations for many of the characters’ actions.

The Wikipaedia entry on Thompson notes that Vaara is portrayed as a “good” cop who goes bad in later novels and I can certainly see the seeds of future corruption. Given events, I wondered how he could ever follow up this novel with a second in the series. But I will certainly want to read the rest of the series. . Definitely not a book for those who like their cozies: it’s graphic and often profane.

Thompson, who had studied Finnish (as well as several other languages), was fluent in it, and lived in Finland, died in 2014 after writing four in the Vaasa series. ( )
1 vote ecw0647 | Nov 8, 2016 |
Very disappointing, I am Finnish, so I was really looking forward to reading this. The violence is way over the top & needlessly graphic, the author has little to offer readers who enjoy a good story so he decided to see how gross he could be instead. Give this one a miss! ( )
  Icewineanne | Aug 4, 2016 |
Scanda mystery set in Finland

264 pg

The translation was a bit choppy and
This is my first meeting with Inspector Vaara.

The story was intriguing, sometimes quite intense and well developed plot
that kept me anxious to see what's next.
Yes there was a brutality I've found often in Scanda fiction

I did have a problem with a 4 letter word that appeared far more than I would have thought necessary.
There again...I have no familiarity with that particular culture so it may be a commonly used term or it may just be an Americanization term (I hope not)

I'll try Vaara again. ( )
  pennsylady | Jan 25, 2016 |
On the plane down to my parents house for a visit, on the way out of the house I grab a random book for the plane out of my gargantuan TBR pile. It’s Snow Angels, by James Thompson. I honestly don’t even remember when or where I bought it. Nordic noir, from Finland. Thompson was an American living in Finland, who unfortunately died in 2014 at the age of 49.

Snow Angels on The Hawaii Project

Snow Angels reminds me strongly of John Burdett’s wonderful Sonchai Jitpleecheep series set in Thailand, in that it gets well and truly inside the head of a different culture, and makes it both strange and accessible, and in the process delivering an intriguing mystery. (Bangkok 8 is the first book).

Snow Angels explores Finland, where the winter night can last months, drinking is endemic and suicides are common. Kari Vaara is chief of police investigating the horrific death of a beautiful Somali actress. Is it a hate crime, or something else?

The mystery curls in on itself pretty quickly, where Kari knows one of a handful of people did it, but can’t quite connect the dots to figure out who. The writing is fast paced and the setting sucks me in; I finish the book on a 2 hour plane flight.

Comparisons to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo arise naturally, both because of the books as well as the unfortunate and premature death of the author; if you like one, you’ll like the other. It’s sad that Thompson is gone, but he’s left a few books in the series and I’m looking forward to checking them out.

(and, continuing to play with my latest hack the Book Playlist, here’s a soundtrack to listen to while you read this book: http://open.spotify.com/user/thehawaiiproject/playlist/13Fpg6NLmDy6OOURnQxjCo) ( )
  viking2917 | Jan 25, 2016 |
Meet Kari Vaara. He is the inspector for a small town outside of Finland's capital of Helsinki. Just before Christmas, during the darkest time of the year in Lapland, he is confronted with the brutal (and I do mean brutal) murder of a semi-famous immigrant Somali actress. She has been viciously sexually assaulted and a racial slur has been carved into her stomach. Sex crime? Hate crime? Both? As lead investigator Vaara must sort through the clues; clues that dredge up his own haunted past. My only complaint was as lead detective Vaara should never have been allowed to stay on the case once it looked like his ex-wife's boyfriend was good for the crime. In my culture Vaara would have recused himself and left the investigation, especially since his ex-wife left him devastated. His fingering the boyfriend for the murder could be a revenge accusation. SPOILER ALERT: if not after the first murder, but certainly when his ex-wife is also murdered he should have handed over every part of the investigation and stepped as far back as possible. Just my two...
Okay, and I have another complaint albeit a small one. This is definitely an adult book. The themes, the language, the sex and violence...well, the violence was especially over the top and so many deaths (six in all) seemed unnecessary. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jul 24, 2015 |
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Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Monet ihmiset ovat auttaneet minua kirjoitustyössäni rohkaisemalla, kommentoimalla ja kritisoimalla, ja olen heille kiitollinen. Neljä ihmistä on vuosien mittaan uhrannut aikaansa, tarmoaan ja taitojaan, jotta kehittyisin kirjoittajana: kirjallisuudentutkijat Nely Keinänen ja Phillips Brooks, lahjakas kirjailija Joel Kuntonen ja loistava lukija Juha Tupasela.
Kiitos. Teidän hyvän tahtoisuutenne koskettaa minua ja saa minut nöyräksi. Tämä romaani on omistettu teille.
Sekä Annukalle, kuten aina.
First words
I'm in Hullu Poro, The Crazy Reindeer, the biggest bar and restaurant in this part of the Arctic Circle.
Americans ramble on about politics but have a low voter turnout. Finns seldom talk about politics, but around eighty percent vote in presidential elections. We don’t talk about hatred, we hate in silence. It’s our way. We do everything in silence.
. . . I went to New York for a semester as an exchange student. What struck me most was the sky. On that side of the world, so far away from the North Pole, the sky is flat and gray, a one-dimensional universe. Here, the sky is arched, and there’s almost no pollution. In spring and fall the sky is dark blue or violet, and sunsets last for hours. The sun turns into a dim orange ball that transforms clouds into silver-rimmed red and violet towers. In winter, twenty-four hours a day, uncountable stars outline a vaulted ceiling of the great cathedral we live in. Finnish skies are the reason I believe in God.
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Here's the first thriller in a new series featuring Inspector Kari Vaara, the haunted, hardened detective who delves into Finland's dark underbelly. Just before Christmas, during the bleakest time of the year in Lapland, the unrelenting darkness and extreme cold above the Arctic Circle drive everyone just a little insane...maybe enough to kill. Once a big-city "hero cop," Vaara's retreated to his hometown to nurse unhealed wounds. Now he's put himself under intense pressure to solve a case without asking for outside help, and he suspects the rich man for whom his ex-wife left him years ago may be the killer.… (more)

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Average: (3.47)
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