Customer Reviews for

Snow Angels (Inspector Vaara Series #1)

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Great new series!

I started Snow Angels on a lazy Sunday morning. I finished Snow Angels the same night. Yes, it was that good. And a genre I love - mystery thrillers. It's newly released today from Penguin Canada.

It is Kaamos in Finland - the darkest time of the year, just before Ch...
I started Snow Angels on a lazy Sunday morning. I finished Snow Angels the same night. Yes, it was that good. And a genre I love - mystery thrillers. It's newly released today from Penguin Canada.

It is Kaamos in Finland - the darkest time of the year, just before Christmas. Inspector Kari Vaara is looking forward to Christmas with his newly pregnant, American wife. Instead, he is called out to a murder scene in the bitter cold. The victim is a beautiful Somali refugee who had become a minor movie star in Finland. The crime is horrific and seems both racially and sexually motivated. Vaara resists having another squad from Helsinki coming in to run the case. But has he bitten off more than he can handle?

And that's just the beginning. The plot twists and turns. What seemed to be an obvious solve took a sharp left turn more than once, keeping me guessing. Vaara himself is an interesting character. He is highly intelligent, but sometimes makes a call based on emotion, with repercussions. The subplot involving his wife's unhappiness with Finland lets us discover Vaara as a human, not just a cop. And his wife's unhappiness brings another character to the book - the dark, the bleakness, the isolation that is Finland in the dead of winter. Thompson writes what he knows. The descriptions of the cold and the lives of those enduring that cold made me shiver. (-40 degrees)

Read an excerpt of Snow Angels.

Caught up with the Steig Larsson? Definitely read Snow Angels. Fans of Michael Connelly take note - he has provided a cover blurb for Snow Angels - "Masterful".

James Thompson's story is interesting as well. He was born and raised in Kentucky, but has lived in Finland for 10 years now. He is fluent in both Swedish and Finnish. Snow Angels is his first English book. An author who is now firmly on my must read list. Cannot wait for #2 in the Vaara series!

posted by Twink on January 12, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

violence and sex

This book was on the New York times list for summer reading as a thriller. I found it overly violent with too much directed towards women. I took it on a trip to Europe and left it there, I did not want it part of my library.

posted by Mariet on April 5, 2010

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  • Posted January 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    So That's How It's Done in Finland

    What made this book so good to me is that I needed to throw out what I ususally know about police thrillers and learn a whole new way of thinking. That is what happens in a place where it is virtually dark all the time during the winter, super cold, police do things that we would consider ultra corrupt, poor chain of evidence controls and the most gruesome killer only faces a maximum of 12 years in prison.

    Kari Vaara is a Finnish detective told to solve quickly a grisly murder of a Somalian actress. The woman was murdered in the style of the Black Dalhia of the United States. To top things off the main suspect is Seppo, the man who took Kari's wife Heli away from him several years ago (a conflict of interest that would cause a mistrial in the US).

    All this happens around the Christmas holidays and Kari is further pressured by his American wife who has had enough of the Finnish way of doing things and the long dark winters. She wants Kari to leave the Finnish police and move back to Colorado with her.

    As the book progresses we feel Kari's torment from all ends, including the haunting memories of Kari's sister, who perished in a skating accident while she was with Kari. As the case progresses Kari can't figure out if the killer was one or different combinations of multiple individuals. On top of it all, the darkness seems to set off more murders and a suicide.

    I never read a novel quite like this one and found it both fascinating and unsettling at the same time. The book cover calls the tale a Kari Vaara story so that implies that Kari will be back to do it again. I will look for future tales.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great new series!

    I started Snow Angels on a lazy Sunday morning. I finished Snow Angels the same night. Yes, it was that good. And a genre I love - mystery thrillers. It's newly released today from Penguin Canada.

    It is Kaamos in Finland - the darkest time of the year, just before Christmas. Inspector Kari Vaara is looking forward to Christmas with his newly pregnant, American wife. Instead, he is called out to a murder scene in the bitter cold. The victim is a beautiful Somali refugee who had become a minor movie star in Finland. The crime is horrific and seems both racially and sexually motivated. Vaara resists having another squad from Helsinki coming in to run the case. But has he bitten off more than he can handle?

    And that's just the beginning. The plot twists and turns. What seemed to be an obvious solve took a sharp left turn more than once, keeping me guessing. Vaara himself is an interesting character. He is highly intelligent, but sometimes makes a call based on emotion, with repercussions. The subplot involving his wife's unhappiness with Finland lets us discover Vaara as a human, not just a cop. And his wife's unhappiness brings another character to the book - the dark, the bleakness, the isolation that is Finland in the dead of winter. Thompson writes what he knows. The descriptions of the cold and the lives of those enduring that cold made me shiver. (-40 degrees)

    Read an excerpt of Snow Angels.

    Caught up with the Steig Larsson? Definitely read Snow Angels. Fans of Michael Connelly take note - he has provided a cover blurb for Snow Angels - "Masterful".

    James Thompson's story is interesting as well. He was born and raised in Kentucky, but has lived in Finland for 10 years now. He is fluent in both Swedish and Finnish. Snow Angels is his first English book. An author who is now firmly on my must read list. Cannot wait for #2 in the Vaara series!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 12, 2011

    Started and never put it down!

    It is called Kaamos.two weeks of darkness and soul-numbing cold that falls on a Finland area, a hundred miles into the Arctic Circle. Some get through it with vices like cheap Russian alcohol and some sink into deep depression. This year it drove someone crazy enough to commit murder. When the body of a Somali woman is found dead in the snow, it is up to Inspector Kari Vaara to find her killer. This won't be easy in an ugly place where darkness hides secrets and silence is a way of life.

    This book was completely overtaking! I started and never put it down. It is very hard to leave the setting once you start reading. It is a very dark, bleak, raw and in your face but, almost in a "that's just the way it is here" kind of way! I enjoyed the crime novel aspect of the book. It will definitely make you feel something.good or bad.

    Reviewed by Catherine Peterson for Suspense Magazine

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Setting steals the show!

    Vaara promises to join the ranks of memorable serial detectives. His character has depth and a history to support it. He does come dangerously close to tedium as he generates a veritable limitless range of suspects and scenarios to explain the murder of a beautiful "sometime actress" apparently vacationing in Finland. But the setting is so intriguing and the minor characters are so well drawn that they more than make up for minor flaws, and ultimately the plot unfolds well.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2013

    Very informative and an interesting story.

    The place in Finland where this story takes place is in the way north of the country within the Arctic circle. Lapland is an area that contains parts of Sweden, Russia, Norway and Finland. It's a way of life most of us are unfamiliar with, almost endless darkness during half the year. The main character's wife is having her own problems with it. The story involves the murder of a Somali women. It was very well told. As I have relatives that have Finnish roots, it was so nice to see names that I am familiar with. I will read the next book as well.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2012

    For those who enjoy a great Scandinavian mystery, James Thompson

    For those who enjoy a great Scandinavian mystery, James Thompson has started a terrific atmospheric Finlander mystery with SNOW ANGELS.  Thompson was born in America but has lived in Finland for ten years.  He makes thorough use of the differences between culture, weather, personalities and murder statistics in Finland and USA in this deceptively psychological mystery.

    Inspector Kari Vaara is newly married and looking forward to Christmas, when he's confronted with a particularly brutal murder of a beautiful young starlet.  Problems arise because she is one of the relatively new refugees from Somalia.  The murder was sexually brutal, perhaps racially motivated, and is culturally charged.  Worse yet, Vaara's ex wife's lover seems to be the prime suspect.  

    Emotions flair in a country where emotions are usually kept inside.  Clues begin to add up quickly, but soon there are too many suspects who are powerful and/or too close to Vaara's personal life.  Relationships with family and co-workers make things still more complicated.

    Thankfully, there are already two more books in this series because after reading this book, mystery fans will find they have a new favorite author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2012

    Very exciting!

    I was pleasantly surprised by the continuous excitement and suspense in Snow Angels. Thompson did an excellent job with twists and turns--would recommend it to all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    Loved it

    Glad I didnt miss this one

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 31, 2011

    Not perfect but definitely on the right track

    If I could, I would have rated this first novel 3.5 stars, as I felt Mr. Thompson could have been a bit tidier with his mystery, throwing in random antagonists that only chose to muddle not enhance the mystery. The base of the story, the setting, the main characters...these were all brilliant and truly carried this first effort. I certainly want to see Inspetor Vaara grow and to understand more about this finnish village in the middle of nowhere.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 5, 2010

    violence and sex

    This book was on the New York times list for summer reading as a thriller. I found it overly violent with too much directed towards women. I took it on a trip to Europe and left it there, I did not want it part of my library.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2013

    Amazing

    This was a brilliantly written novel. It kept me inthralled from the begin until the last page, which I read in one sitting. Its only 215 pages, so its definitely not the longest book evet written but it has great content. If you're a fan of scandanavian crime novels, you absolutely won't be disappointed with Inspector Vaara.

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  • Posted November 22, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I enjoyed the suspense of the book; however I did find it hard t

    I enjoyed the suspense of the book; however I did find it hard to connect with characters, just because it lacked some detail of getting to know them. The book was more about the “snow angels” then about who is who and why. However, it could be that with this being the first book of a series that the characters build during the other books. I love the fact that you get sucked into the darkness of the plot. I believe that is what makes you want to turn pages, because I surely did that. I did, in fact, enjoy the novel and I will be waiting for the second book to come out.
    It is brutally violent, dark, harsh words, but yet it sucked me into wanting more. Definitely more of an adult book, unless you like the dark suspense like I do.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    Great protagonist

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The descriptive writing about the 12 days of night in Finland was eerie, cold, gruesome, and just awesome.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    Not a Finland I recognize

    Not an accurate portrait of Finland

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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