Helsinki Blood (Inspector Vaara Series #4)

( 4 )

Overview

The exceptional fourth thriller in the Edgar-nominated series featuring Inspector Kari Vaara.

A missing woman too unimportant to raise alarms . . . criminal masterminds too powerful to pursue. And when the system fails, Inspector Kari Vaara must dispense his own brand of justice.

Kari Vaara is recovering from the physical and emotional toll of solving the Lisbet Söderlund case when he’s approached with a plea: an Estonian woman ...

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Helsinki Blood (Inspector Vaara Series #4)

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Overview

The exceptional fourth thriller in the Edgar-nominated series featuring Inspector Kari Vaara.

A missing woman too unimportant to raise alarms . . . criminal masterminds too powerful to pursue. And when the system fails, Inspector Kari Vaara must dispense his own brand of justice.

Kari Vaara is recovering from the physical and emotional toll of solving the Lisbet Söderlund case when he’s approached with a plea: an Estonian woman begs him to find her daughter, Loviise, a young woman with Down syndrome who was promised work and a better life in Finland . . . and has since disappeared.

One more missing girl is a drop in the barrel for a police department that is understaffed and overburdened, but for Kari, the case is personal: it’s a chance for redemption, to help the victims his failed black-ops unit was intended to save, and to prove to his estranged wife, Kate, that he’s still the man he once was. His search will lead him from the glittering world of Helsinki’s high-class clubs to the darkest circles of Finland’s underground trade in trafficked women . . . and straight into the path of Loviise’s captors, who may be some of the most untouchable people in the country.

As Kari works his new case, a past one comes back to haunt him when powerful enemies return to settle unfinished business. In a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, he is propelled toward a reckoning in which the stakes are life or death . . . and only the victors will be left standing.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Edgar-finalist Thompson’s compelling fourth Insp. Kari Vaara thriller (after 2012’s Helsinki White) shows the Finnish homicide detective to be not so much hard-boiled as deep-frozen, after suffering the loss of his emotions during brain tumor surgery and receiving bullet wounds to the knee and the jaw. His beloved wife, Kate, has left, taking their infant daughter, Anu, with her, while Kari self-medicates with a combination of painkillers and booze. Hoping to win Kate back by proving himself a latter-day knight errant, Kari undertakes a private missing-person investigation and limps into Helsinki’s murky white-slave trade with his assistants, Sweetness and Milo. Kentuckian Thompson draws on his long residence in Finland to convincingly portray a grungy northern underworld filled with neo-Nazis, intelligence spooks, and Russian mobsters, though the stomach-wrenching threats and violence from both bad and good guys culminate in a messy finale. Agent: Nat Sobel, Sobel Weber Associates. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
The violent soap opera of Inspector Kari Vaara's life continues as he and his mates scramble to mop up the consequences of their last round of well-intended thefts and executions. The top cop in Finland's National Bureau of Investigation has, by his own account, been "shot to pieces." Kate, the wife whose timely armed intervention saved his life in Helsinki White (2012), has succumbed to PTSD and gone off with their daughter Anu. Someone who knows that Kari and his colleagues stole €10 million from drug dealers is threatening him with increasingly lethal parcels tossed through his front window. Naturally, Kari calls the two people who helped get him into this mess, DS Milo Nieminen and police translator Sulo "Sweetness" Polvinen. Together with Milo's girlfriend, Jenna, and Sweetness' cousin Mirjami, they hunker down inside Kari's besieged apartment and wait for an excuse to go on the offensive against their old enemies: national police chief Jyri Ivalo, interior minister Osmo Ahtiainen, his hatchet man Capt. Jan Pitkänen and racist billionaire arms dealer Veikko Saukko. A pretext arrives when Estonian widow Salme Tamm reports her daughter Loviise missing. Since the girl's beauty and Down syndrome make her an obvious target for sex slavers, Kari and company promptly lean on the Harper brothers, casino keepers and pimps, to help them go after the usual suspects and incidentally recover Loviise. The mayhem that ensues owes less to other tales of Scandinavian cops than to samurai sagas and spaghetti Westerns, with a sequel guaranteed only for the last man standing. Though he doesn't have Henning Mankell or Jo Nesbø's gifts for shaping a story, Kentucky-native Thompson has created in Kari a hero as dyspeptic as Kurt Wallender and as prone to vigilante justice as Harry Hole.
Library Journal
Finnish inspector Kari Vaara has been beaten down so thoroughly (after Helsinki White) that all bets are off as to his integrity or ability to handle the black-ops work his team has taken on. His wife has left him, but their baby is in Kari's care. Meanwhile, thugs are targeting him because of his last case, reminding him of his vulnerability. Once that problem is addressed, Kari agrees to help an Estonian woman find her kidnapped daughter, who has Down syndrome. Wading into the dismal morass of human trafficking, Kari's team goes vigilante. Clearly, there is no turning back. VERDICT Finnish noir is the current tone of Thompson's series, and his bleak and crushingly violent opening will put off some readers; I still miss the Kari of Snow Angels. But readers who are already invested in this character ache to see him succeed. Just the fact that Thompson can make the situation believable and make us care is evidence of his talent. [See Prepub Alert, 9/17/12.]
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399158889
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/21/2013
  • Series: Inspector Vaara Series , #4
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,454,874
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

James Thompson, eastern Kentucky born and raised, has lived in Finland for more than a dozen years. His first novel, Snow Angels, was nominated for the Edgar, the Anthony, and The Strand Magazine Critics Award.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Inspector Kari Vaara, of the National Bureau of Investigation, t

    Inspector Kari Vaara, of the National Bureau of Investigation, the protagonist in this series, in which this is the fourth entry, has a reputation as a “hero cop,” having been shot more than once in the line of duty and decorated for bravery both times, and possessed of “annoying incorruptibility.” In the prior book in the series, “Helsinki White,” he was offered, and accepted, a job running a black-ops unit in his native Helsinki, using crime to fight crime with hand-selected (and admittedly sociopathic) cohorts, his “brothers in arms, brothers in blood.”

    The book opens a very short time after the events described in the last book. Kari is still recovering from brain surgery to remove a tumor, the unsettling after-effects of which, while now lessening, were psychological/emotional rather than physical. As I wrote about that book, his motives were primarily altruistic: “I took this job and started this illegal operation after being promised that it was for the purpose of helping people” specifically “young women being forced into the slave trade and prostitution. (A welcome by-product of bringing those criminals to justice was the ten million euros he had “liberated” from a faked blackmailer, aiding his present efforts.)

    Those are still his primary motivations, especially when he is approached by a woman who begs him to find her 19-year-old daughter, who has Down syndrome, who has been duped and is being held against her will with an intended future as a prostitute. He believes that “if I could truly save this one girl, in some tiny way, it would justify all I’ve done. It wouldn’t make things right or restore balance to my inner world, but the symbolism would be there, proof that doing good is possible for me.” And maybe get his wife back: Vaara’s life, mind and body are in shambles, only made worse when his wife of two years, shattered by the events in the prior book and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, has left him, and their baby daughter, and sought refuge (ironically) with her drug-addicted brother in Miami. Honor-bound “to the concept of duty, that sacrifice for the good of others is not only laudable, but expected, especially when it comes to family,” he is determined to see that justice is again served, even after his investigation soon reveals that some very important people are involved, to his, and his family’s, peril. This book, as readers of the prior books in the series know, is not for the faint of heart.

    It is, however, recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2013

    3.5/5 James Thompson's last book Helsinki White, left me wonder

    3.5/5
    James Thompson's last book Helsinki White, left me wondering if I wanted to follow the Inspector Kari Vaara series any longer. (my review) I wasn't too sure if I liked the direction Thompson was taking Vaara. But, curiosity got the better of me, so I picked up the fourth book - Helsinki Blood.

    Vaara is trying to recover from the gunshot wounds he sustained solving his last case. He's in unbelievable pain, and self medicating with drugs and alcohol. His mental state is still suffering due to from the brain tumour surgery that left him unable to feel emotions. His wife has left him, taking their infant daughter with her. And the people he stole from - they want revenge. His home and family are targets. Vaara has no choice but to fight back. And Vaara fights dirty. For Vaara is a dirty cop, albeit with good intentions. And of course, he calls on his black ops crew - the duo known as Sweetness and Milo, also both police employees.

    "Milo, Sweetness and I are three such men. Brothers in arms. Brothers in blood. Each of us bound to the others by the knowledge that only we can count on ourselves not to kill one another. We did our jobs too well, observed no limits, not even legal boundaries, and served justice instead of our masters."

    What follows is a dark, disturbing thriller that was difficult to put down. The prose are brutal, bloody and stark. The characters are cold and vicious. But there is still some of the old Vaara there, seeking justice for the those unable to protect themselves and protecting his own at all costs. The inclusion of a plotline about an abducted young Down's woman seemed to be added to the book to showcase this facet of Vaara. The level of corruption, unrest and racism is frightening - I'm not sure I would ever want to visit Finland. But, Kentucky native Thompson, has made Finland his home for over fifteen years. He includes much social commentary in his plots, touching on many current events.

    Vaara is a hard character to define. He's a dangerous, ruthless man, but on the flipside does have a moral compass. We're just not too sure where its pointed right now. This latest book has hooked me again and I'll be waiting for the fifth installment in this series - Vaara's story is far from over. Thompson is Scandinavian noir at it's best. Read an excerpt of Helsinki Blood.

    I would suggest starting from the beginning of the series to fully appreciate Vaara's story. However, Thompson does provide enough back story that you could read this as a stand alone.

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  • Posted April 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A Lot of Blood

    A quick read, well written with interesting characters, and a good plot. The language was too raw for my taste. Although, I suppose it could be deemed appropriate for the lead characters who are a cross between cops and a murder squad. They stop at nothing and leave no one in their way as they pursue their brand of justice for whom they consider evil doers. This book provided for review by Library Thing and the well read folks at G. P. Putnam's Sons.

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

    Posted October 18, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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