Anna's Reviews > Lucifer's Tears

Lucifer's Tears by James Thompson
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's review
Nov 16, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011, apl

Inspector Kari Vaara is a fresh addition sort of exception to the classic, nearly cliche of the Nordic noir detectives (middle-aged, divorced or with catastrophic relationships, often with really annoying children from the previous relationships, with alcohol problems, and with Harry Bosch-type issues with authorities). This is the 2nd in the series, but it's no harm to start with the second volume - the books are not as much bound in order as e.g. the Millennium or Harry Hole books are.

In this book, inspector Vaara is asked to investigate some affairs from the 1940s, a suspected Finnish war hero is suspected of war crimes. Another case he gets to investigate with his new, annoying partner (and please don't call the handicap of the partner asperger since it's nothing but social ineptitude and nerdness) is a brutal murder of Iisa Filippov, a Finnish trophy wife married to a Russain-origin suspected mobster. There's the ugly, depressing reality with the police work and the society, and then there is Kate, the wife. Vaara tells the story in first person, and with the English versions of the books I've been told the versions of the story are very different, like with the first book. Kate helps Kari reflect the world around him, making it easier to comprehend for the US readers than the average Finnish crime story would be (not that they really translate them... I can name all Finnish crime books that have been made available in English in the past 80 years in the fingers of both hands). Much like with Peter Decker (Fay Kellerman), there's the work, then there's the family life. Kari is very protective of his family; Kate and a future daughter #1. Violently protective would be the right word. The Vaaras also get visitors, Kate's younger sister and brother, for weeks around the birth of their daughter. Both siblings get occasionally rather annoying, and the Vaaras being both very strong type A personalities would help develop even more drama. (But please read to see how much there is, or how it's resolved).

Like Snow Angels, there is a lot about Finland and Finnish culture. I would definitely recommend the book (and the series) for anyone interested in that country, and especially for anyone who's going to live there for a while. Plus for those who love the different police procedurals, noir, and classic crime around the world.

My favorite character in the book is Arvid, the war hero suspected of war crimes. I can also very clearly recognize a few types around my life like Kate's sister and brother, and even the Vaaras in their type-A-ness.
I enjoyed the book but it seemed slightly less exotic to me than Snow Angels (then again, I did go to high school five minute walk from Kari's favorite corner pub mentioned in this book). Another thing that slightly got on me was the slightly too much talk about some female and pregnancy issues. I guess those kind of make sense for the story and the characters, but I kind of would enjoy some things a bit more vague and less detailed. It'll be curious to see how the characters develop in the next book - as Kari will once again have some changes in work, those should show somehow in the next story.

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