Sunday, 9 December 2012

Snow Angels by James Thompson

It is Kaamos, two weeks of endless dark night with no sun or light before Christmas. In Kittila in northern Finland it is minus forty degree Celsius outside and too cold that people start drinking in the early afternoons.

Inspector Kari Vaara is called to investigate the death of a beautiful Somali Immigrant actress, Sufia Elmi who was brutally murdered and mutilated in what looks like a sex and race crime. Kittila is a small town. So small that the murder takes place where Kari met his American wife, Kate for the first time. And Kari has to scout the street his parents live for possible witnesses. And suspects are too close to home for the investigative officers. No it is not a cosy. It is as hard-boiled as it comes violent with sexual content.

When Kari gets an early break in the case, we know that there is more to the case than what appears. The scenarios Kari build on what could have happened are ugly, and what Kate suggests gives it a nightmare quality. As the body count piles up, can't help wondering if I accidentally stepped into a Zombie movie. I didn't guess the ending or the murderer. If it hadn't been a series, I would definitely have suspected Inspector Kari Vaara for the murders.

James Thompson gives details on weather, history, attitudes, local communities, and how the weather affects people. He gives interesting information about various aspects of Finland. With so many stories featuring crime, especially the Scandinavian noir, if you wonder what is the statistics of serial killers, that there are no known serial killers walking free in Europe, says Kari Vaara. Other bits of information that caught my attention is that in the previous decades, teenagers were gifted dentures as confirmation gift because by puberty their teeth were rotten.

I did get a feel of Finland and it is sad that when Kari sees Aurora Borealis he is not able to enjoy it or get fascinated by it. He is burdened with these murders and its impact. The sexual content was explicit and disturbing. Yes, the endless night can drive one to insanity.

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