Sunday, April 1, 2012

"Helsinki White"

James Thompson is an established author in Finland. His novel, Snow Angels, the first in the Inspector Vaara series, was released in the U.S. by Putnam and marked his entrance into the international crime fiction scene. Booklist named it one of the ten best debut crime novels of 2010, and it was nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, and Strand Critics awards. His second Vaara novel, Lucifer’s Tears, released in March, 2011, earned starred reviews from all quarters, and was named one the best novels of the year by Kirkus. The third in the series, Helsinki White, was released 2 weeks ago, on March 15.

Thompson applied the Page 69 Test to Helsinki White and reported the following:
Unfortunately, page 69 is the beginning of a chapter and a set up for it, with a bit of exposition in it. Not a good representation of the book. I’ll give you a tidbit that others feel reflect the book a bit more. It’s been quoted several times. This is from a review by Leighton Gage, esteemed author of the Inspector Mario Silva series:
"There's a great myth believed by nearly everyone that Finland is corruption-free. Police and politicians are scripture pure, dedicated to the good of the nation beyond all things. Foreigners even write about it in travel guides for tourists." That's Kari Vaara, telling us about his country in the first pages of James Thompson's new novel, Helsinki White. Shortly thereafter, he goes on to say, "I run a heist gang. I'm a police inspector, shakedown artist, strong-arm specialist and enforcer...Three months ago, I was an honest cop."
What a way to kick-off a book!

Helsinki White is Bible black noir. Its themes are corruption and racism, and there’s no sugarcoating. Overall, it’s gotten great reviews, but almost all of them say something like, open with care, it will scorch your hair off. I’m tempted to write more here, but I think I’ll keep myself in check. It’s such a controversial book that I think writing it was enough on my part. I prefer to leave the judgments of this book to the readers and reviewers and unaffected by my comments for now.
Learn more about the book and author at James Thompson's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Snow Angels.

--Marshal Zeringue