The violent soap opera of Inspector Kari Vaara’s life continues as he and his mates scramble to mop up the consequences of their last round of well-intended thefts and executions.
The top cop in Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation has, by his own account, been “shot to pieces.” Kate, the wife whose timely armed intervention saved his life in Helsinki White (2012), has succumbed to PTSD and gone off with their daughter Anu. Someone who knows that Kari and his colleagues stole €10 million from drug dealers is threatening him with increasingly lethal parcels tossed through his front window. Naturally, Kari calls the two people who helped get him into this mess, DS Milo Nieminen and police translator Sulo “Sweetness” Polvinen. Together with Milo’s girlfriend, Jenna, and Sweetness’ cousin Mirjami, they hunker down inside Kari’s besieged apartment and wait for an excuse to go on the offensive against their old enemies: national police chief Jyri Ivalo, interior minister Osmo Ahtiainen, his hatchet man Capt. Jan Pitkänen and racist billionaire arms dealer Veikko Saukko. A pretext arrives when Estonian widow Salme Tamm reports her daughter Loviise missing. Since the girl’s beauty and Down syndrome make her an obvious target for sex slavers, Kari and company promptly lean on the Harper brothers, casino keepers and pimps, to help them go after the usual suspects and incidentally recover Loviise. The mayhem that ensues owes less to other tales of Scandinavian cops than to samurai sagas and spaghetti Westerns, with a sequel guaranteed only for the last man standing.
Though he doesn’t have Henning Mankell or Jo Nesbø’s gifts for shaping a story, Kentucky-native Thompson has created in Kari a hero as dyspeptic as Kurt Wallender and as prone to vigilante justice as Harry Hole.