Friday, March 22, 2013

Pierce’s Picks: “Helsinki Blood”

A weekly alert for followers of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction.

Helsinki Blood, by James Thompson (Putnam):
You’ve got to wonder how Finnish homicide inspector Kari Vaara--introduced in Snow Angels (2009)--manages to keep going. He’s been battered and bruised, shot and suckered, and had to undergo surgery to take care of a brain tumor. His wife, Kate, is suffering the debilitating effects of post-traumatic stress disorder as a consequence of her recent actions, and she’s left their infant daughter, Anu, in his uncertain care. Yeah, sure, Inspector Vaara did make a mint off his last case, in Helsinki White (2012), screwing drug dealers out of their ill-gotten profits; but that black-ops scheme put a target on his back the size of Cincinnati. Is it any wonder that our hero has turned to medicating himself? This is a guy in desperate need of good news and redemption. Cue the approach of a woman from Estonia, who pleads with Vaara to find her teenage daughter, Loviise, who has Down syndrome and has gone off the radar after being promised a better life in Helsinki. The detective’s search for Loviise takes him on a wild ride from ritzy clubs to the rank depths of his country’s white-slave trade, and leaves him vulnerable to enemies with even fewer scruples than he can still claim. All the while, he prays that this effort to do good will demonstrate to Kate--and himself--that he hasn’t really turned into one of the bad guys. The Kentucky-born, Finland-living Thompson knows how to pen emotionally riveting crime stories, as dark as a Nordic winter. But it’s a welcome surprise to find a ray of actual hope in the closing pages of Helsinki Blood. It seems Kari Vaara will live to be maltreated another day.

You can read an excerpt from Helsinki Blood here.

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