** spoiler alert **
I was happy to find a new Scandinavian crime series – this one's set in Lapland (Finland) during kaamos, the two sunless weeks before Christmas. Given the setting and the echo of the author's name, I was hoping for something hard-boiled, juicy and joyless.
I got the joyless. The book's received high praise (it's a Booklist best crime novel debut, and it sports fulsome blurbs from Michael Connelly and Peter Høeg). But I won't be coming back for any more of Inspector Vaara. The crimes are so lurid as to be laughable, and Vaara's interminable monologue (even after being shot in the mouth) about love, family, justice and Finland parodies Jim Thompson's logorrheaic lunatics. Top this off with his pulsing paean to marital bliss, and you have a couple approaching the obnoxious acme of Spenser and Susan Silverman:
I look around and see all I have to be grateful for. I'm surrounded by family. My wife loves me, has her arms around me. Our babies are growing inside her. I look up at her. It hurts but I force a smile. "Merry Christmas, Kate."
Pass me the vodka and Percocet, Inspector.