Snow Angels by James Thompson
Sufia Elmi, a Somali refugee and minor film star, is found brutally murdered on a remote Finnish reindeer farm north of the Arctic Circle. The local police department is called to the scene and Kari Vaara, chief of police, decides to hold on to the case even though the reasons he should recuse himself begin to stack up. This is his chance to prove himself and maybe get a different posting if he gets a successful solve. Kate, his American-born wife who works at the local ski resort and is pregnant, is getting depressed by the unending darkness and the brutal (-40 degrees Celsius!) weather and doesn’t know if she can survive another winter.
This is a mystery that seems to be solved in the first few chapters, but of course all is not what it seems. Kari, and the reader, are led down many avenues of inquiry and every time it seems like the solution is at hand, something else happens to throw yet another theory out the window. I didn’t see the ending coming, but after the motivations are all laid out it made a strange kind of sense. The author was an American-born transplant to Finland so he knows the things that we would find different about the country and the people and shows them well in his writing. He shares the reasoning and insight into what on the surface may seem to be a cold place and people.
I really enjoyed the book and the characters and it is sad to know that there will only ever be four books in the Inspector Vaara series since the author died in an accident a couple of years ago.