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Lucifer's Tears
An Inspector Vaara Novel
By James Thompson

Berkley Prime Crime
02/07/2012 / ISBN: 978-0425245392

Reviewed by Dennis Collins

Homicide detective Kari Vaara has recently signed on with the Helsinki Police Department in Finland. He was badly wounded in his previous assignment in the Arctic Circle and feels that the stress contributed to his American born wife's miscarriage some months back. He's hoping for a new start and a smoother road now that his wife is once again pregnant. Coming into a new police department carrying the rank of Inspector causes some resentment and jealousy in the ranks, and his status is further hampered when he is partnered with Milo, an equally disliked homicide cop.

They are assigned to a homicide case in which the wife of an influential industrialist is found murdered in her lover's apartment. The case looks cut and dried on the surface but the investigation begins to uncover some unsettling questions. Ivan Fillipov, the victim's husband, is very well politically connected and is pushing for a speedy conviction of his wife's illicit boyfriend. Vaara is not so sure.

In addition to this case, Vaara is also assigned the task of investigating claims that a local 90 year old war hero committed war crimes during the Second World War. His superiors instruct him to find a way to clear the old man's name and exonerate him of all charges, a task that Vaara sees as impossible. His inquiries uncover the fact that his own grandfather served side by side with this tarnished hero and was very likely complicit in the alleged war crimes.

This is a very complicated plot. It's so big that I haven't covered all of it in my description, but the short chapter length and the one-thing-at-a-time pacing of the story keep it from becoming confusing.

Author James Thompson writes with a poetic flair that makes even the gruesome murder scenes palatable. If you're offended by graphic sex and explicit language, this may not be the book for you, but the story is great and it's beautifully told.

Reviewer & Columnist Dennis Collins is the author of Turn Left at September, The Unreal McCoy, and The First Domino
Reviewed 2012