As well as being our featured reviewer this week, as Gareth has written in with such a detailed review of Lucifer’s Tears, we thought that we’d give it its very own blog post!
Name: Gareth Rice
Occupation: University Researcher and freelance writer
Best detective/good guy: John Rebus/Dr. Gill Grissom Favourite place to read: Anywhere really but I prefer cafes that have a quiet hum or, my top floor apartment with a stunning vista of the city.
Anything else you want to tell us? Reading crime fiction has taught me a lot about my own psychology and obsessions…
Review of Lucifer’s Tears
With its cold landscapes a perfect setting for grisly tales of murder, ‘Scandinavin noir’ has been the inescapable genre of recent years. When reviewers search for a ‘Scandinavin noir’ icon they tend to come up with writers, such as Jo Nesbø, Henning Mankell, Ilkka Remes, Matti Joensuu and, more recently, Stieg Larsson. Enter Lucifer’s Tears, James Thompson’s second Inspector Kari Vaara novel which is a full-hearted stab at a sequel with more than an invigorating whiff of its brilliant predecessor, Snow Angels. The purgatorial sounding title comes from the first chapter, in which Vaara reflects on his home: “Finland. The ninth and innermost circle of hell. A frozen lake of blood and guilt formed from Lucifer’s tears, turned to ice by the flapping of his leathery wings.”
We join Vaara in Helsinki where he has moved to from his home in the remote Finnish north because his wife, Kate, was offered an opportunity to advance her career in the most upmarket hotel in the capital. It’s not long before Vaara and his sidekick, Milo, “a nervous puppy…who needs a firm hand to guide him”, are dispatched to investigate a crime scene in the residential district of Töölö. They are faced with what seems like an open and shut case: the nude, dead body of a young woman, Iisa Fillipov, the wife of the Russian businessman Ivan Fillipov. She has been sadistically tortured. Her skin is marked with cigarette burns and she has been whipped viciously with a riding crop, and ultimately asphyxiated. Iisa’s lover, an Estonian man called Rein Saar, woke up beside her in bed covered in her blood. Vaara is reluctant to arrest Saar and be done with it, contra his boss’s, Jyri Ivalo, suggestion. This marks the start of well paced interwoven plot lines that never feels padded out, and make it difficult to gulp back the keenness to read on.