As I've already mentioned, when I was at the "M" event in December, Lindsay Wood from Penguingroup gave me three ARC's. I have now finished one of them - Helsinki White by James Thompson. I enjoyed it quite a bit. This is James' third novel about Inspector Kari Vaara but my first exposure to him. You definitely don't have to read the first two to enjoy the third.
James' background is interesting. He was born and raised in Kentucky. He moved to Helsinki 13 years ago. As he said to me, it was for a woman but was more likely Karma. So he's writing a series that will relate to American audiences as well as Nordic (he told me that Finland is Nordic but not Scandinavian - see how informative I can be!). He decided to have a Finnish inspector and an American wife. That way, he could integrate the two cultures. I can tell you that it works pretty well.
Vaara is an inspector for the Helsinki police. In this book, he has to deal with a rising xenophobia in Finland. The right-wingers are militantly opposing all non-Finlandians in their country. There are Nazis, assassinations, kidnappings, drug busts, and more - a veritable cornucopia of challenging issues for an inspector to deal with. And on top of all that, his American wife has just given birth to their first child, which she is raising at home while putting her own career on hold. As you can imagine, he's dealing with work and home, not an easy balance to maintain (as all of us, parents or no, can attest). It makes for fun reading, and it doesn't matter if he's at work or at home. Besides the inspector and his wife, there are a variety of characters and oddballs who help give the story some light moments.
There are plenty of violent moments for those who like that sort of thing (I know I do!) and some sex and sexual attraction (I know I do! - oh, wait, was that a question?). It's a good story, and I would recommend it. Besides this one, I have read 4 other books from that part of the world (Nordica? Nordic/Scandinavian?) - the Larsson trilogy and Jo Nesbo's Redbreast. I think that James' Helsinki White is worthy of being included in that panoply of Arctic Circle countries that have found so much success in the U.S.
Editor's Note: You all know how much I love book world. Reading and blogging are two of my very favorite things to do. But there's a third thing that I love too. I love emailing authors. I have begun emailing many authors. Most of them have been giving of their time - and I try not to be too annoying. But James Thompson is one of those who really goes out of his way to email back in a timely fashion (especially considering he's quite a few hours ahead of us). His emails are newsy and fun to read. His writing and his emailing have earned my loyalty. As long as James is writing, I'm reading.