15815341Reviewed by Caleb Shadis

Helsinki Blood is the fourth book in the Inspector Kari Vaara series. I have read books one, three and now four. The first one was a good noir mystery; the reviews suggest the second book was a descent into madness. The third book was dark, gritty and violent and the protagonists realized they had fallen and wanted to find a way out. Now, here in the fourth book, they are trying to find a path clear. They just might succeed.

At the end of the last book Vaara was shot twice by a rather sadistic sociopath while his wife was forced to watch. This along with other acts have had a very negative impact on Vaara, his wife and their relationship. Kate moved into the hotel she manages and took their child with her. One day, while Vaara is sitting at home feeling sorry for himself, someone tosses a brick into his living room window with a message. Shortly after a teargas canister is sent bursting through the newly repaired window; this time his infant child is in the house. Obviously something is going to have to be done in order for Vaara to protect his family. These are just warnings…

Vaara discovers that not only did his wife drop off their little girl and not come back, she ran off to Florida in the States to live with her drugged out brother. With the child and his own physical ailments, Vaara is in no condition to go after her. So he asks Milo to get her and bring her back home.

During all this, he is approached by an Estonian woman, who claims her daughter – who has Down Syndrome – has been abducted and brought to Finland to be forced into the sex trade under the guise of a secretarial job. She pleads with Vaara to find her. Kari agrees even though it is just asking for more trouble on top of the pile he is already under.

I think Helsinki Blood was better than the last book. While it was still gritty and dark, there was at least a ray of hope in the end. Also, while once again the team was playing fast and loose with the laws, they were acting more like vigilante cops and less like mob enforcers. I suggest starting this series with the first book, but if not then this one would be the second best in my opinion. Not for the faint of heart.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Also by James Thompson: Helsinki White Snow Angels

Caleb is a software engineer and amature woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Putnam Adult. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.