American-born Thompson, who's lived in Finland for the past decade, offers a bleak look at the ravages of that country's long, dark winter as well as intriguing glimpses of Finnish culture in his solid U.S. debut, the first in a new crime series. Shortly before Christmas, Kari Vaara, the police chief of the Lapland town of Kittilä, gets a phone call informing him that the body of Sufia Elmi, a Somali refugee and minor film star, has been found in a snowfield on a reindeer farm. The victim has also been mutilated, perhaps raped, and a racial slur carved into her flesh. When Kari's ex-wife's lover becomes the prime suspect, Kari spurns the chance to recuse himself and presses on. The winter hazards of alcoholism, suicide and murder all play a part as Kari uncovers more suspects. Sufia's imperious father, Abdi Barre, who was a doctor in his native country and now runs a cleaning service, puts added pressure on Kari. Tangled smalltown relationships and lust also fuel this noirish thriller.(Jan.)
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