cover image Helsinki Blood

Helsinki Blood

James Thompson. Putnam, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-399-15888-9

Edgar-finalist Thompson’s compelling fourth Insp. Kari Vaara thriller (after 2012’s Helsinki White) shows the Finnish homicide detective to be not so much hard-boiled as deep-frozen, after suffering the loss of his emotions during brain tumor surgery and receiving bullet wounds to the knee and the jaw. His beloved wife, Kate, has left, taking their infant daughter, Anu, with her, while Kari self-medicates with a combination of painkillers and booze. Hoping to win Kate back by proving himself a latter-day knight errant, Kari undertakes a private missing-person investigation and limps into Helsinki’s murky white-slave trade with his assistants, Sweetness and Milo. Kentuckian Thompson draws on his long residence in Finland to convincingly portray a grungy northern underworld filled with neo-Nazis, intelligence spooks, and Russian mobsters, though the stomach-wrenching threats and violence from both bad and good guys culminate in a messy finale. Agent: Nat Sobel, Sobel Weber Associates. (Mar.)