Monday, May 6, 2013

James Thompson

With his first internationally published novel, Snow Angels, James Thompson proved himself Finland’s best and most popular representative in the rise of Nordic noir. It was selected as one of Booklist’s Best Crime Novel Debuts of the Year and nominated for an Edgar Award, an Anthony Award, and a Strand Critics Award. His novel, Lucifer’s Tears, has received critical acclaim from all quarters, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus, and was selected as one of the best novels of the year by Kirkus. Helsinki White was released to critical acclaim in 2012. The fourth book in the series, Helsinki Blood, was published in March, 2013.

From Thompson's Q & A with George Ebey at The Big Thrill:

HELSINKI BLOOD is your fourth novel featuring Inspector Kari Vaara. Can you tell us a little about his background and how he has evolved over the course of the series?

Kari has had a hard go of it. He grew up dirt poor in a small town in the Arctic—the kind of poor where there isn’t always enough food—and was also sorely abused by his father. This instilled in him a desire to help those who can’t help themselves. A compulsive desire, and sometimes he goes far past what is reasonable, or even legal, to accomplish it. His first wife walked out on him. He was a beat cop in Helsinki and was shot in the line of duty while involved in an act of heroism. She was gone when he came home from the hospital.

The bullet wrecked his knee and the chief of police had to retire him or promote him, as he couldn’t continue as a patrol cop. Kari had earned his Master’s in criminal justice and met that qualification, so he was promoted to inspector. He asked to be assigned to his home town. It was a quiet job, running the small police force there, almost a form of retirement, and he stayed, perhaps not happy, but content enough, for a number of years. Then he met Kate. They fell in love and married quickly. Trouble also came quickly. A murder case resulted in a number of deaths, Kari was shot again, this time in the face. Kate miscarried twins. They decided to try for a new start, moved to Helsinki, and he worked in the homicide unit.

The national chief of police had dreams of becoming a sort of Finnish J. Edgar Hoover. He needed people to work outside the law to do it. He recruited Kari. He pushed Kari’s buttons, told him he would focus on saving women from forced prostitution in the slave trade. Kari’s compulsion to help the helpless sucked him in. But he had been lied to. His black ops were about the acquisition of wealth and power, he had inadvertently, an inch at a time, become a collaborator and he was stuck in a position he didn’t want to be in and couldn’t find a way out. I’m avoiding spoilers from this point on.

Health problems changed him and his thinking and behavior, so much so that he became a man...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at James Thompson's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Snow Angels.

The Page 69 Test: Helsinki White.

Writers Read: James Thompson (April 2012).

My Book, The Movie: Helsinki White.

Writers Read: James Thompson.

The Page 69 Test: Helsinki Blood.

My Book, The Movie: Helsinki Blood.

--Marshal Zeringue