An Estonian woman begs Inspector Kari Vaara 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.
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Praise for HELSINKI BLOOD
“James Thompson's prose blend of chilly Scandinavian atmosphere and dark Southern Gothic is unique and jolting, like an ice-cold straight razor slashed across sweaty flesh. In Helsinki Blood there are equal measures of violence, detection, pathos, blood . . . and finally, sweet redemption.”—C.J. Box, New York Times Bestselling Author of Force of Nature and Breaking Point
“Finnish noir is the current tone of Thompson’s series . . . 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.”—Library Journal
“Helsinki Blood is as dark and bracing as a Nordic winter . . . Kari Vaara blasts other maverick cops out of the (icy) water.”—M. J. McGrath, author of White Heat and The Boy in the Snow
“I can’t get enough of this author. No one writes noir better, Nordic or otherwise.”—Leighton Gage, author of Blood of the Wicked
“Inspector Kari Vaara’s latest nightmare barrels along at a breakneck pace as he faces enemies on his doorstep as well as his own demons within. James Thompson’s spare, no-frills action is straight to the point. Helsinki Blood as raw as it gets, it doesn’t pause for breath and it and takes no prisoners.”—Quentin Bates, author of Frozen Assets and Cold Comfort
"Compelling...Thompson draws on his long residence in Finland to convincingly portray a grungy northern underworld."—Publishers Weekly
"Kentucky native Thompson has created in Kari a hero as dyspeptic as Kurt Wallender and as prone to vigilante justice as Harry Hole"—Kirkus
Praise for JAMES THOMPSON:
“In his dozen years of living in Finland, Kentucky born and-bred Thompson has absorbed enough cold, dark atmosphere for a spot on the roster of top Nordic crime writers—Mankell, Nesbø, Indriðason and the like.”—New York Post
“A must-read for fans of Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell.” —Booklist (starred review)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.