Published by Avon (Harper Collins)
I can’t recall where I read it, but I recently read that in the case of crime novels many readers aren’t too concerned with the plot of each book in a series, it’s the characters we love and love to follow.
Snow Angels – the debut by James Thompson has a great plot and characters that I’m really sad to have let go of now I’ve closed the book – so I hope that the second in the series comes along quickly.
Set in Finland, it has all the cold and darkness of the best Scandinavian crime fiction out there with some fantastic characters, particularly the damaged central character of Inspector Kari Vaara and his young American wife, Kate, who in a likely first for a novel both walk with limps due to separate events in their past.
Set at the bleakest time in Lapland, just prior to Christmas, the novel follows the investigation into the savage murder of a young beautiful Somali actress – the Snow Angel of the title. Hers, as with the other deaths and violence within the novel is depicted as it should be, without being gratuitous. The way in which each stage of the novel has an impact on its central characters is also as it should be – these are not just ‘on the page’ people, they are written very very real and on more than one occasion I felt I was standing right beside them in some of the key scenes.
The linking of some of the characteristics of the central crime to The Black Dahlia murder are well done, without being too heavily reliant and the possible links to Vaara’s ex-wife and her new husband in particular to the crime are horrible possibilities written for him to unveil at his peril.
Thompson has clearly put his damaged Inspector through the mill in this first novel, damaging him further, both emotionally and physically, by its climax and although I’d like him to give Vaara a slightly easier life in the next book, it’ll be very interesting to see what impact some of the events within Snow Angels have on his character in book two.
I would highly recommend this book and can’t wait to read more of Inspector Kari Vaara.