Helsinki White (Inspector Vaara Series #3)

Helsinki White (Inspector Vaara Series #3)

by James Thompson


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Inspector Kari Vaara, recovering from brain surgery, is back to doing police work—under circumstances most cops only dream of. Reporting directly to the national chief of police, Kari and his partners Milo and Sulo have been granted secrecy and autonomy for their new black-ops unit, and plenty of cash to work with, including whatever they can steal from Helsinki’s mobsters.

But Kari's team is too good, and their actions have unintended consequences...The president of Finland wants the team on a new case: the vicious assassination of a prominent immigrants' rights activist. Against a backdrop of simmering hatred spreading across the country, Kari must solve a case that involves the kidnapping of a billionaire’s children, a Faustian bargain with a former French Legionnaire—and his own wife.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425253441
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/05/2013
Series: Inspector Vaara Series , #3
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 781,342
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.97(h) x 0.91(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

James Thompson, eastern Kentucky-born and –raised, has lived in Finland for more than a dozen years; he now resides in Helsinki with his wife. His debut novel, Snow Angels, was selected as a Booklist Best Crime Novel Debut of the Year and was nominated for Edgar®, Anthony, and Strand Magazine critics awards. Before becoming a full-time writer, Thompson studied Finnish—in which he is fluent—and Swedish, and worked as a bartender, bouncer, construction worker and soldier. He is also the author of Lucifer's Tears, also in the Inspector Vaara series.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Superbly written and full of insights about Thompson’s adopted country . . . [Helsinki White is] a first-class crime novel." —Leighton Gage, author of A Vine in the Blood

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Helsinki White 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
whatsnew More than 1 year ago
An enjoyable read and one of a excellant series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is a chracter shift (textally explanatory)which is qute a bit jarring in comparison with th previous novels but it was necessary and crafted well. Kari just took readers to a bit darker place in this book. It was a very good thought provoking read which will make readers think and be forced to look at things people pretend not to. Thompson in truth was quite brave and ballsy in writing this book and i commend his courage. Yes it is fiction however the truths in it are the things people cannot ignore as their realities are beyond terrible. Cannot wait for the next book.
CKGS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Inspector Kari Vaara, has been asked by Jyri Ivalo, the National Chief of Police, to run a black ops unit. Inspector Vaara, a national hero for solving previous high profile cases, can do no wrong. Vaara takes on criminals dealing with drugs, money and guns with the help of Milo and Sweetness, both of whom he can barely control. While dealing with excruciating headaches, he learns he has a brain tumor which must be operated on immediately. His American wife Kate and new daughter, Anu, offers an escape from the illicit crimes, Vaara and his cohorts take on for the benefit of the politicians who want kickbacks from all the money the black ops group has stolen. Because Finland has such a pure reputation, no one would believe that a black ops team is even possible or that corruption could be so widespread among the highest levels of government. The operation for the brain tumor is deemed a success, but Vaara has lost all sense of emotion when dealing with his family or the dirty jobs Juri Ivalo expects him to do. His wife Kate has reservations over this new life they are immersed in and feels nothing good can come of being situated between the criminals and the national police.Third in the series, Helsinki White is darker than the previous Inspector Vaara mysteries and the characters and situations have also taken on a darker cast.
readafew on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brutal. That¿s a good single word description of the book. Criminals were brutal to each other, brutal crimes were described in detail. Brutal acts were committed by almost everyone. The whole work was a brutal look at racism today in the `socialist paradise¿ of Finland. It was all very interesting, though this book was not for the faint of heart.Our hero has changed. He has brain surgery to remove a tumor and knee surgery, to fix his knee that had been shot, to remove his limp. He is also offered a different job, a black ops job to take on criminals outside the law. He accepts believing he will be able to make a difference. He does make a difference, though not the one he thought. Doing evil in the name of good, still begets evil. It¿s a hard lesson to learn.A prominent politician is murdered and it increases the heat on already simmering racial tensions. Vaara is called in by the prime minister himself to head the case because of his celebrity status. It turns out there is a rather tangled web of deceit and dirty dealings all around and if Vaara and his crew aren¿t careful they¿ll be the ones being hung out to dry, or worse.The author has notes at the end describing that the racial hatred that is rising in Finland. It is very reminiscent of the Nazi rhetoric, and is successful partly because a similar economic situation has come, where people are struggling financially and those who are different are the easy targets for blame. I¿m think this is the 3rd novel in the series. There appears to be 2 novels already out about Vaara, but this copy says it¿s the 2nd in the series, not sure if it¿s differences in publishing between Finland and the US. I guess I¿ll have to read the other one to find out which order they really are.
karieh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am not sure how I ended up reading James Thompson¿s first Inspector Vaara novel, ¿Snow Angels¿ but I LOVED it. The character of Kari Vaara set in wintertime Finland just captivated me. He (and Finland) were just so different from anything I knew that I just couldn¿t put the book down. It contained some pretty horrific scenes, but because I was so involved with the characters (and I am counting Finland as a character here) and how well they were described and fully fleshed out, that I got past the violence and enjoyed the book.Which is why I did not enjoy ¿Helsinki White¿ nearly as much. Because of brain surgery and other circumstances, the character of Kari Vaara in this book is NOTHING like in the previous two novels. Here, there is almost an absence of character. Reading about the hate and violence rocking Finland, I had neither Kari nor a fascinating locale to keep me going. Kari¿s voice is just completely different than in books past ¿ and while there is a good reason for it ¿ I just felt like I was trying to get through the events in the book while I waited for him to get back.I understand from the author¿s ¿Beyond the Story¿ that these events are in part based on what is really happening in Finland¿which is even more disheartening. While our country is starting to come back a bit from the hatred of the post 9/11 world, and is starting to open its eyes to the hatred of the extreme right wing elements, it sounds as if Finland is just in the midst of an explosive and horrible time for its people.While I will certainly pick up the next Kari Vaara novel, I will do so with fingers crossed that ¿Helsinki White¿ was a necessary part of the journey and that the next book will have more of what I loved in the first two books.
Cats57 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Helsinki White (An Inspector Vaara Novel) [Hardcover]James ThompsonAt the end of Lucifer¿s Tears we learn that Kari Varra has a brain tumor, with this novel we find him starting to get ready to have his operation to remove it as thankfully it is benign. Kari has been asked to run what he believes to be a black-ops operation that will benefit women who are being sold into prostitution. In reality, he and his crew are nothing more than highly armed thugs; collecting weapons, stealing drugs, beating, maiming, and disposing of inconvenient bodies all without a single qualm, Yes in the end we see how this works out well---but it is the trip to the end that was so very uncomfortable. On the other hand, Vaara has since his tumor removal, can no longer feel emotions (not joy, love happiness or anger, nothing) and is working with the `I want/gimmee¿ type feelings of a six year old, and with the sexual reactions of a sixteen year old. He is more a sociopath than anything else. This helps us to understand how Vaara can become the cold calculating character he is. I understand that Finns as well as many others in the Nordic communities have a different way to view emotions, but we know from the past books that Vaara CAN feel. Along the way, Kate his wife has becomes a vacuous, nearly empty-headed drunk and although we can see why she is being the way she is, I can¿t admire her for taking the easy way out.This book is filled with politics and bigotry; the crimes and plot-lines that James Thompson is known for. However, it is also filled with Vaara and his over-inflated ego about being a national hero, and the thought that he has the ¿goods¿ on everyone who matters in the government. Along with the group¿s regular work the group has been asked to investigate the death of an immigrant rights activist and a year old kidnapping case with racist overtones. In addition, into the mix we meet a new character from the French Foreign Legion, a Legionnaire¿and a person of interest.In the end Vaara looses it all and I really do mean all¿and I hope that there will be a next book so I can see how he is going to cope now that his life has fallen apart again.
frogprof on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not having read the two previous Inspector Vaara books [which I plan to remedy soon], there were bits of this book that didn't make sense to me ... but it's a good yarn. LOTS of blood, gore, and violence -- I think I'm glad this isn't [yet] a movie -- but it certainly makes us see what changes are wrought in Kari by his agreement to participate in a "black-ops" secret police department. He's sort of blackmailed into it, but that's OK -- he's blackmailing his blackmailer as well. I knew nothing about Finland before reading this book, and having read it, I'm not too sure I want to go there ... it sounds hideously racist, and the Afterword by Thompson makes him sound very worried about his adopted homeland. On the other hand, there are all those gorgeous Finns, and saunas, and the midnight sun ...
realfish on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
James Thompson continues the string of impressive novels from Scandinavian authors. This is the third book in his Inspector Vaara series and the premise is fresh and interesting. Vaara becomes the leader of a black ops outfit after undergoing brain surgery and losing his 'emotonal self." The book certainly has a dark, noir feel to it as Vaara fights inner demons, racial hatred, drug traffikers, and murderers. I really liked that Thompson had the confidence to drastically change his formula (unlike so many cookie cutter series today). While the change may be too dramatic for some readers, I think those who let the story develop will like what they read.
Twink on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I devoured the first two books in James Thompson's Inspector Vaara series. and was eager to pick up the latest - Helsinki White. Vaara has never been a follow the rules kind of cop - instead he bends them, but only to see that justice was served. But, in Helsinki White, Vaara has become the leader of a 'black-ops' unit, comprised of himself, Milo and Sweetness, his two odd, but lethal associates. All this is done at the request of his immediate superior. The idea is to fight crime with crime, with an eye to the good. But that isn't the way it's turned out... "I run a heist gang. I'm a police inspector, shakedown artist, strong-arm specialist and enforcer. Three months ago, I was an honest cop. I'm not sure I care how or why, but I reflect on how I could have undergone such a drastic change in such a short time." And I'm not sure either. Vaara has undergone surgery for a brain tumour. One of the side effects is that he no longer feels emotion. Perhaps this is a contributing factor? But from the second book to this one, Vaara is a radically different character. And I'm not too sure what I think of him now.... In Snow Angels, Vaara pursues a case that is racially charged - the murder of a Somali woman. In Helsinki White, the issue of racial intolerance, prejudice and hate is a tangible, ugly truth. The racist rhetoric made me feel sick. Thompson has borrowed from headlines in Finland to create a multi layered plot involving extreme xenophobia, political corruption at the highest levels and more. Vaara pursues justice, but it is obtained by vicious and selective means. The tone of Helsinki White is very dark and noir. The violence and situations are extreme. The characters are of course, Thompson's to manipulate, but I have to be honest, I didn't like where he took them. Vaara's American wife Kate has agreed to Vaara heading the black ops group. But, she is aware of the escalating violence, is present for some of it, all while toting along her three month old baby. Vaara's tumour has left him without emotion and operating on a base level.... "I don't seem to care about what I do, either. My existence is binary. Want/don't want. Like/don't like. Will/won't. I have no shades of gray." ...and the writing seems to echo that - the prose are short and terse. Except for the long descriptions of the guns and equipment obtained by Milo, that I found myself skimming. I applaud Thompson's tackling of a very real issue, but Vaara's solutions makes him no better than those he is pursuing. Will I read the next in the series? Yes, I want to where Thompson takes Vaara, but it won't be at the top of the pile.
JosephLYoung on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable story that features a team of police detectives that become a Black Operations unit, set to rob criminals and drug distributors on a national scale, sharing their loot with the National Police chief and Interior Minister while funding their operations. An interesting assortment of characters that range from former straight arrow policemen to Finnish members of the French Foreign Legion. The story offers a window into a culture that is at odds with the tourists book view of Finland. The lead character, Kari Vaara, has the task of forming this black ops group while undergoing brain surgery to remove a tumor and becoming a new father. I found the penchant for volume drinking to be enlightening but, given the long cold days during the winter, not surprising. The success of the black operations given that the members were naive and amateurs at criminal endeavors is remarkable. The action is fast and many of the involvements of the characters are surprising. Friendships and associations, especially with the politically endowed also crossed obvious boundaries. The Black Ops Team seemed out of place much of the time. The surprising ending and the way the characters dealt with it was enough for a psychologist to study for a paper. Not something that I could expect to happen in the U.S. today but, seemed plausible in the cold Finnish winter. An enjoyable trip into another culture and location. (This book was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers program and supplied free with the promise of an honest review.)
pmfloyd1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First, Thompson is a very good writer. His style is easy to read and to get into.... in fact, his style lends itself to reading quickly and without interruption, which is very nice for his style of "gritty action" novel. I will not repeat what others have said in their reviews, because I concur with all of the other reviewers at Library Thing... and you can get a good sense of the book's strengths and weaknesses in the other reviews. (disclaimer: I received the book as a part of the Library Thing Member Reviewer Program, thanks!). But I would say that for me the sex, vulgarity, drug and graphic violence is tiring, depressing and in many parts distracting.... and not believable... but in the current world of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" - gritty is in and believable is out. In the end, he has so many sub-plots going at the same time.... too hard to keep everyone straight and it stretches the readers credibility ... which is never something the author wants to abuse... because once the story becomes too unbelievable or too weird or too "you gotta be kidding me" - the author has lost his reader. Here, about half way through the book, he lost me.....If this is the current state of Finland.... count me out. With all that said, if you like this type of novel, Thompson is a very good writer (I concur with bookcruz below) and you will probably like it. I just don't want to sit next to you on a bus. (joke)
danieljayfriedman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Until recently, Finland has been missing from my Nordic mystery mix. But I¿m pleased to report that James Thompson, an American living in Finland, has introduced me to Finland with his Inspector Kari Vaara, the central character in Snow Angels, Lucifer¿s Tears, and, most recently, Helsinki White. Vaara, who moved from Lapland, the chilly site of Thompson¿s first novel, to Helsinki in his second novel. Helsinki White finds Vaara still in Helsinki, suffering from a damaged knee, a scarred face, a brain tumor, constantly debilitating headaches; trying to maintain his marriage to his American wife; and attempting to care for his newborn daughter. Helsinki White also finds the Inspector with a questionable new assignment: running an off-the-books, secret three person police unit, his dubious reward for having limited the political fallout from his solving a spectacularly ugly sex murder of the promiscuous Finnish wife of a Russian émigré businessman. Thompson packs several disparate themes and much action into Helsinki White, ranging from Vaara and his two black ops sidekicks robbing drug dealers; to Vaara¿s befriending an elderly Finnish war hero with a hidden record of possible war crimes; binge drinking and alcoholism; fractured fraternal relationships; recovery from brain surgery; kidnapping; rogue former French Foreign Legionnaires from Finland; and the deterioration of Vaara¿s marriage. The strength of Helsinki White lies in James Thompson¿s nuanced and mutli-dimensional portrayal of Kari Vaara, and Thompson¿s sketchier but still compelling portrayals of Vaara¿s wife, in-laws, brothers, colleagues, and elderly friend. Another strength lies in Thompson¿s description of Finland, its politics, its landscapes, and its culture. Thompson¿s three Inspector Vaara novels all focus on gory crimes. Thompson¿s characters in Helsinki White, and not Thompson¿s mysteries in Helsinki White, are what compel me to eagerly await the next novel in this excellent new series.
jonesli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this thid installment of the series, we find Inspector Vaara celebrating the birth of his baby girl, Anu, while also confronting the fact that he has a brain tumor and may die. He has also made a deal with the devil, which will pit him against some of the most powerful, evil men in Finland.Inspector Vaara has been chosen to run a rogue black-ops unit, supposedly fighting crime with even more crime which leads to dire consequences for his family.There is also a second storyline, which explores the murder of an immigant rights advocate, and the unsolved kidnapping of a billionaire's children.While Kate, Inspector Vaara's American born wife struggles to fit in and adapt to Finnish customs, (i.e. a mandated 9 month maternity leave), she tends to her newborn daughter and watches her husband turn into someone she no longer recognizes. She also faces her own identity crisis which jeopardizes their marriage.This book was very gritty and violent, much more than the previous two books in the series, and the author left just enough issues unresolved for the next book in the series. I can't wait!
bookczuk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(Mild spoiler alert, if you haven't read book 2)I'm in a bit of a quandary in writing this review, because of the duality within this book. In the first two Inspector Kari Vaara books, I've gotten to know a set of characters, and learn a bit about Finland. James Thompson threw a wild-card or two in at the end of the last book with both the new squad Kari would be heading and the diagnosis of a brain tumor. It is in this third book that both those elements shape the story, impacting the characters readers thought they knew, and twisting the story in very dark ways.And yet, even though this story deals with the inevitable evil trio of corruption, drugs, and crime, and the fight against them, it still kept me locked in. That the fight took on a darkness of its own, I found unsettling. But life isn't clean, so why should the books we read be? The twist of the surgery affecting Kari's emotional outlet was brilliant. (Not that I liked some of results, but the plot development was a good one.) At the end of this book, I felt all characters were irrevocably changed, but not irreversibly changed. And it is because I feel there is still hope, and because I think Mr Thompson an excellent writer, and crafter of a story, that I shall look forward to book four. My four stars are not because I liked what was happening in the book, but because of the skill with which the tale was told, the effect the writing had on me, and the uniqueness of the way this author is moving the story line. Received this book via the kind auspices of LibraryThing Early Reviewers program and the publisher.
auntmarge64 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This the third in a series featuring Kari Vaara, a Finnish cop. I've read all three, given 5 stars to the first, 4 stars to the second, and 3 stars to this one. "Helsinki White" focuses on a variety of very ugly topics: racist hate groups, the illegal drug trade, and politicians and cops with no sense of moral balance. In addition, the main character, who had some decency in the first two books, looses all emotion following brain surgery and becomes as evil as the people he's pursuing. The lengthy racist monologues of several secondary characters are just disgusting, and the indiscriminately crude and sexist language used by all the characters made this one of the most unpleasant books I've ever read. I don't think I'll care to follow Vaara's further adventures.
ijustgetbored on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the previous two installments in the Inspector Vaara series-- all three books have great dialogue, super suspense, and just enough standard police procedural combined with disregard for the law to keep things interesting. But, as another reviewer noted, something is missing in this one, and that's the voice of Vaara himself. Because of his brain surgery (the cliffhanger from the previous novel), he is void of emotion, and his character is quite altered. He's harder to like-- not impossible to sympathize with, but still, he makes you a little unsettled, and not in a good way. I miss the Vaara of the previous novels and hope he returns for the fourth installment.To the plot of the novel itself: There's so much, there's almost too much, until it starts to come together at the end. Vaara has been more or less commanded to run a black ops unit within the Helskinki police, and the novel begins with scattershot retellings of various heists that he (along with the borderline-- or is it even borderline? this is not a complaint, just an observation-- Milo and the gentle-- sometimes-- giant Sweetness) pull off. It's a little all over the place, a laundry list of criminal hijinks.A little later, a high-profile murder is committed, which raised my hopes that this would turn the novel into something a little more cohesive, a little closer to the detective-work novel that Thompson has brought us in the past. That never really came together. The murder is investigated (the team being joined by an extremely interesting fourth party to their investigations), but the detective work is constantly interrupted by revenge hate crimes that draw attention away from the primary murder and threaten to derail the plot. Thompson is very committed (as he explains very well in his afterword to the novel) to showing that Finland is not a socialist paradise of racial peace and harmony, and the grisly acts of violence and torture bring that message through loud and clear, as do the details about the far-right political parties, but his message sometimes gets in the way of telling a mystery/suspense story. There's nothing wrong with making a statement; it's when the statement starts to tangle the plot that things get hairy.Another plot element enters with a kidnapping and murder involving a right-wing, unsavory businessman, which, let's just say, clounds things more.And then there's the various politicians and political parties.And the tensions with his wife and the stress of a newborn baby.It's a lot to keep up with.Should the novel have been longer? Should Thompson have given himself more space to develop his themes? To spin out the mystery threads more substantially so that they don't get weighed down in rhetoric? To have given some time within the novel for Vaara to recover somewhat from his brain trauma so that his character could spring into action and be engaged for fully? I don't know.I'm still eager to see where the series takes us next-- Thompson has left us with another cliffhanger-- and I do applaud Thompson for painting a picture of Finland in coarse, bloody tones that are far from the rosy pinks that statistics and brochures depict. His grip on realism in this novel is strong. As far as the supporting characters go, Milo, Sweetness, and Kate are played out well, and there are several interesting minor characters as well (not to mention the intriguing figures of the criminal underworld).As a few last words, don't skip the afterword in which Thompson explains the socio-political issues he's trying to illuminate; it puts the novel in some context. Also, if this is your first reading of Thompson, don't assume that this is Vaara's character (like him or loathe him); this is an aberration from the way he appears in the other novels. If you are put off by intense violence and torture, skip this one.
GarySeverance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
James Thompson¿s mystery thriller novel is the third in his series featuring Finnish Inspector, Kari Vaara. In the first two novels, Snow Angels and Lucifer¿s Tears, Thompson¿s inspector became a renowned police officer because of his solution to high profile crimes and his survival of injuries sustained in the battles with criminals. In this novel, Vaara and Milo, his genius techie, and Sweetness, a brutal young street fighter, form a team recruited by government officials to solve high profile crimes related to racial hatred, international drug dealing, and supposed sex slave trafficking. They do this by going beyond their police duties and committing crimes against the criminals they are hunting.If you like extreme violence, you will enjoy the team¿s actions against the racists, dealers, and sex trade denizens of Finland. The interesting notion here is that Finland is considered one of the safest and most prosperous European countries, yet immigration of Africans and Islamic people has stimulated extreme hatred in both left and right wing political action groups. Some members of right wing movements are particularly violent. The ¿True Finns,¿ a right wing group featured in the novel actually exists in Finland today, although most members are not anti-immigration or violent according to an afterward by Thompson. Left wing groups oppose the True Finns and also have members with violent tendencies. Helsinki White gives an interesting view of Finland today, and Thompson warns that Europe is moving toward such violence on a larger scale. On a smaller scale, the three men in the rogue cop team perform their illegal actions with the ends justifying the means. But they do pay a high price for their success.
Leighton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"There¿s a great myth believed by nearly everyone that Finland is corruption-free. Police and politicians are scripture pure, dedicated to the good of the nation beyond all things. Foreigners even write about it in travel guides for tourists." That¿s Kari Vaara, telling us about his country in the first pages of James Thompson¿s new novel, Helsinki White. Shortly thereafter, he goes on to say, "I run a heist gang. I¿m a police inspector, shakedown artist, strong-arm specialist and enforcer¿Three months ago, I was an honest cop."What a way to kick-off a book!Snow Angels, James Thompson¿s first novel to feature Vaara as a protagonist, was named by Booklist as one of the ten best debut crime novels of 2010 and was nominated for both an Edgar and an Anthony.His second, Lucifer¿s Tears, was included in Kirkus¿s List of the Best Novels of 2011. And anyone who knows Kirkus also knows that they¿re the toughest critics that ever there were ¿ or are.Now, Thompson has given us the third in his series, Helsinki White -- and it's as cool as a Nordic wind.As the book begins, Vaara¿s personal life is bittersweet: on the positive side, he¿s a new dad, deeply in love with his American wife, Kate, and infant daughter Anu; on the negative, he continues to suffer from paralyzing headaches, is haunted by his past exploits and is obsessed by thoughts about the type of man he has become.Meanwhile, his professional life keeps getting worse: He and his boss, Jyri Ivalo, are polar (no pun intended) opposites. The National Chief of Police is as corrupt and twisted as they come. Vaara, on the other hand, is an essentially moral man who sees his position in the police as a path to doing good, perhaps the only thing he¿s qualified for in the doing-good department.The men hate each other, and the Chief would fire Vaara if he could.But Vaara has something on him that would destroy the Chief¿s career.And despite the fact that the rot doesn¿t stop with Ivalo, despite the fact that his principal assistant, a man he can¿t get rid of, is a sociopath, despite the fact that he¿s been put in charge of a clandestine unit which has been specifically created to function outside the law, Vaara wants to stay on.Couldn¿t get any worse, you think?Then you don¿t know James Thompson.Before the first chapter is out, Vaara discovers his headaches are being caused by a brain tumor. You might conclude, from the little I¿ve told you, that Helsinki White isn¿t a cheerful book.Well, you¿d be right there. But it¿s a fascinating one, superbly written and full of insights about Thompson¿s adopted country. Take this one, about drinking:"It¿s May second, a sunny Sunday¿The outdoor bars are packed¿Yesterday was Vappu ¿ May Day, the heaviest drinking holiday of the year ¿ and most of these people have been drunk non-stop, morning to night, since they got off from work on Friday."Or this one, a scene that takes place on a tram:"Two elderly women, one on a walker, asked the driver, a black immigrant, a question about where to get off to reach her destination. He answered in accented but understandable Finnish. The two grannies sat in front of me and spoke in loud voices, to make certain he could hear, and discussed how the (racial epithet deleted) ought to learn to speak the (expletive deleted) language. The grannies garnered guffaws."Note: both the racial epithet and the expletive add flavor, and the anecdote can¿t be fully appreciated without them, but this review wouldn¿t be published in certain venues if I¿d left them in.And how about this unpleasant truth: "Here in Finland and the surrounding countries, thousands of gangsters orchestrate the buying and selling of young girls, and hundreds or thousands of those girls pass through this nation every year¿"Corruption, crooked cops, racism; wholesale exploitation of minors; not what you imagined Finland to be like, is it?No, Me neither. White slavery issues play the most prominent roles in Helsinki White, but there are a lot of other things
sworsnup on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Political/crime drama moves along quickly with a good amount of action, violence, and surprises.
SandyLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kari Vaara is a cop in Finland whose wife, Kate, just had a baby girl and he is recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumor. The operation has left him with a loss of emotion, something his brother assures him will pass. Now that he is back at work, his boss wants him to run a rogue unit and he is allowed to pick his own team. Sweetness is the muscle of the group while Milo is the computer expert. They fall easily into their job of stealing drugs, guns and money from thugs, putting trackers on the cars of drug dealers so they can rob them again. Kari had thought he would be doing something good¿rescuing young girls who are being forced into prostitution but convinces himself that cutting the legs out from under criminals is just as good. Kari has a lot of dirt on the higher ups but realizes that he and his team are also under surveillance. There is an unsolved kidnapping case involving a billionaire¿s kids as well as the suspicious aid of a former French Legionnaire.Kate reluctantly agrees that Kari should work with this special unit, even though he now is basically a ¿dirty cop.¿ Arvid is back, the elderly man who had served in the military with Kari¿s grandfather. He has taken a liking to Kate and the baby.Kari¿s boss, Jyri, isn¿t to be trusted but Kari has enough on him to keep him in line. It¿s difficult to keep track of who¿s stabbing who in the back, who to trust while trying to keep one step ahead of the powers that be. Thompson gives an inside look into the political atmosphere in Finland as well as the culture. Kate is drawn into Kari¿s dangerous life and almost loses her own which forces her to make a decision that will impact both of their lives.
cathyskye on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First Line: It's May second, a sunny Sunday, a chilly spring evening.The national chief of police wants Kari Vaara to head a black ops unit intended to put the drug dealers in Helsinki out of business. Any money confiscated will be divided between the chief of police, various political figures, and Vaara and his team-- with the bulk of the money being used to finance the entire operation. Vaara agrees because he truly feels that this is his best chance to do good. First though, he has other business to attend to-- namely that of welcoming a brand-new baby daughter into his life... and brain surgery.Vaara can't wait to be rid of the blinding daily migraines he's had for over a year. He doesn't even care about the side effects the doctors tell him of. In fact, he has other, elective, surgery done at the same time. All surgeries are a success, especially the one to remove the brain tumor. The unfortunate side effect is that Vaara is now an emotional zero. He feels nothing. Vaara watches his two hand-picked team members get a little over-zealous with the violence, and although he warns them to be more careful, it's as though nothing's happened. His beloved wife Kate finds out what's going on, and her behavior begins to change. Vaara looks on with a dispassionate eye.Those looking for the Kari Vaara of the previous two novels, Snow Angels and Lucifer's Tears, will not find him here. Surgery has rendered him monochromatic, an emotionless sociopath, and the world about which he tells us is made even more chilling by Vaara's impassive narration.Vaara's henchmen are good at what they do. The drugs disappear from Helsinki's streets, and the dealers turn on each other as their money and contacts dry up. While the other two target the drug dealers, Vaara's recuperation means that he's focused on other matters; in particular a year-old kidnap and murder, and the recent murder of a woman who was a staunch advocate of immigrants' rights.As in so many other countries, there is a rising tide of racial hatred in Finland as thousands of immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Mideast flock there to live. To have Vaara listen to bigots spout disgusting racial slurs and not even bat an eye makes the entire experience almost surreal.As I mentioned before, if you've read Thompson's previous two novels featuring Kari Vaara and you're expecting a "more of the same" novel, you are not going to get it. Surgery has changed him, and it's anyone's guess as to whether or not he will ever return to his old self. Thompson believes that the times are a-changing, and the days ahead aren't necessarily going to be pretty. The "new" unsettling Kari Vaara of Helsinki White is the perfect harbinger of doing the wrong things for the right reasons, for the well meaning amongst us being taken advantage of by the corrupt, by this age of technology making hatred every bit as easy to spread as love and acceptance.To have a character whom we know is a good guy to stand quietly in the middle of this maelstrom as his marriage disintegrates, as his career crumbles, and as he sees all the overwhelming corruption around him, adds a layer of horror to Helsinki White that would not have been there if Vaara had been his old self. If you can leave any preconceived expectations you may have at the door before you begin reading this book, you're in for an excellent-- if disquieting-- read.
groundedforlife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having not read the two prior books involving Inspector Kari Vaara I was a little reluctant to jump into Helsinki White. I shouldn't have been though because James Thompson does a wonderful job of introducing all the characters to those of us that have not had the privelege to read his books before. And one of these wonderful characters is the country in which this story takes place, Finland. It's a good story about maybe "not so" good people that want to accomplish good things but learn that all actions have consequences good and bad. I look forward to Mr. Thompson's next book involving Inspector Vaara.
jmyers24 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Helsinki White, the latest title in the Inspector Vaara series, comes off as over-the-top noir that struggles to find a firm focus for the plot. This third entry in the series finds Vaara, now a father, about to undergo surgery for a brain tumor that could leave him an emotional eunuch. If that weren¿t enough, Vaara has just agreed to a clandestine position with the National Police Force that puts him as head of a Black Ops Team whose funding comes from relieving various criminal elements of their ill-gotten gains. Of course, Vaara¿s superiors get a substantial cut of the action and require that Vaara take a cut also. This new career path of ¿dirty cop¿, however, is not exactly suitable for a family man, and Vaara must figure out how to change course without putting himself or his family in danger.The Finnish capital that Thompson presents in Helsinki White is dark and brutal with almost no redeeming qualities. The basic scenario of a Black Ops team that functions like a law enforcement mafia stretches credulity. When you add in the brain tumor, the very strange members of Vaara¿s team, and the gratuitous sex and violence, the entire narrative strays a bit too over the top from the first two books for this reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
But I liked it and finished it
BookLoverCT More than 1 year ago
I have read each of the Inspector Vaara series. Just read the fourth book, Helsinki Blood. I am learning much about the problems that have surrounded this country that exists partly north of the Arctic Circle. I was happy with the 4th book's ending, after being upset after book # 3.