Title: Lucifer’s Tears
Author: James Thompson
Release Date: March 7, 2011
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
A year after the events Snow Angels, Inspector Kari Vaara has relocated to Helsinki in order to start over. He has brought his very pregnant American wife, Kate, with him, and while she has adjusted to life in Finland, Kari misses the cold bleakness of the north. When a woman is found dead and her lover claims that he wasn’t the culprit (though he is covered in her blood), Kari must draw on all his resources – mental and political – to catch the killer.
Lucifer’s Tears is the second in James Thompson’s Inspector Vaara series set in Finland, and it’s a worthy follow-up to that outstanding series debut. When the book begins, Kari is even more damaged than he was in Snow Angels. The events of that book really took a toll on him mentally, and what’s more, he blames himself for his wife’s miscarriage. He no longer trusts himself or his instincts, and it takes him some time to regain his confidence. Kari’s issues make for a bit of a heavy read, but that is balanced out by Thompson’s easy writing style; overall, it’s enjoyable and never becomes too much.
The mystery in Lucifer’s Tears is an engaging one. Kari actually figures out the solution behind the murder about halfway through the book, but it takes him some time to figure out how to prove it. It’s a great procedural, as Kari navigates the treacherous waters. Kari’s final decision on how to deal with the issue sets up the next book in the series, and I found it to be very interesting.
There is also a sub-plot in Lucifer’s Tears dealing with Finnish complicity in the Holocaust, and I found this to be completely gripping. The discussion of guilt, innocence, and complicity are heavy moral topics, and the fact that Kari was personally connected to them through his grandfather made it all the more interesting. This part of the book actually made me want to go seek out a non-fiction read on the subject, and I’m very glad Thompson chose to include it.
Lucifer’s Tears was an impressive and absorbing novel from beginning to end. Thompson has created a very sympathetic main character with Kari, and I do hope that he will find some closure and heal a bit in future books. The revelations and set-up for the next book are clear at the end of this one, and I simply cannot wait to see what Kari does next.