A Somalian immigrant is found brutally murdered in a cold, dark snow field in Finland. The case is assigned to Kari Vaara, the lead detective of the local small town police force. The body is that of Sufia Elmi, a black movie actress. Racism is a big problem in Finland, and it’s up to Kari to determine if Sufia’s death is the result of a hate crime or something much more.
Kari’s character is a complex one. He’s the only one of his siblings who didn’t leave town as soon as the opportunity arose. One must wonder if he still feels guilty for the tragedy that struck his family when he was a child. Kari is forced to confront his past in order to deal with present.
Kari is married to Kate, a young American woman who moved to Finland to manage a local ski resort. Kaamos, ten days of complete darkness, have just begun. Kate, pregnant with their first child, is struggling to deal with the subzero temperatures and the vast differences in the Finnish and American cultures. Kate’s feelings of isolation are beginning to have an effect on Kari and their marriage as a whole.
Thompson does an outstanding job with setting and characters in Snow Angels. While laying out the storyline, Thompson also educates the reader on the culture and customs of Finland. His writing creates vivid images of the frigid Arctic setting and the emotionally cold individuals who inhabit it. While Snow Angels is labeled as crime fiction, Thompson makes a statement social issues in the Finnish culture. We see a dark side of Finland, one I have never experienced before.
And while this exploration into the social norms of natives are explored, Thompson also unveils a very brutal crime. The pace of the storyline is perfect. There wasn’t one segment of the book in which I felt was dragging on. And just when I thought I knew the identity of the murderer, the direction changed completely, leaving me guessing until the very end.
Snow Angels is the first in a new series. I impatiently await the second, scheduled for release in 2011.
Warning: Mild profanity, scenes of a sexual nature