About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Snow Angels by James Thompson

24. – 583.) Snow Angels by James Thompson – Where the Canadian winter in Louise Penny’s Bury Your Dead is bright and cheery Thompson’s Finnish winter above the Arctic Circle is dark and grim. It is the time of kaamos when the sun disappears totally for two weeks. Even the permanent residents of Lapland struggle with depression.
            As Christmas nears Inspector Kari Vaara is looking forward to the holiday season with his lovely pregnant wife, Kate. Happy holidays are banished when he is called to a reindeer farm where the body of a beautiful Somali immigrant, Sufia Elmi, has been found in the snow. In her death throes she has thrashed about creating a snow angel.
            It is gruesome and cruel death described in great detail at the scene and at the autopsy. I understand some mysteries effectively avoid the brutality of death by providing no detail.  While appreciating the Thompson’s skill at graphic depiction I found the detailed gore excessive. It was distracting rather than powerful.
            For Vaara, living in his hometown, it is the case of a lifetime. The glare of modern media will focus upon Vaara. Is the rural northern inspector up to the challenge of such a high profile case?
            Vaara is aided in the investigation by Valtteri, an experienced police officer who is also a Laestadian (an austere and demanding Lutheranism). The police department is so small that Vaara carries his own forensic kit to crime scenes.
            With the death occurring in the tiny village in which Vaara grew up we are introduced to Vaara’s family and neighbours. They are a most eclectic group. Thompson’s imagination was working overtime in their creation.
            When a murder is particularly vicious in real life or fiction the residents of the area expect the killer must have come to their town as who among friends, neighbours and families could be a monster.
            Vaara is an intelligent investigator who logically follows the strands of information to a horrible truth.
            I enjoyed the book and will read the next in the series. I am not sure if I will continue if the detail on death is as extensive. I find myself reluctant to read Giles Blunt for the same reason. I find it hard to enjoy books which I know will contain extended descriptions of violence. (May 11/11)


  1. Bill - I share your distaste for graphic descriptions of death. It's interesting that you mention Giles Blunt, too, because for the same reason you've mentioned, I find Blunt's books somewhat difficult, too, although I consider him a talented writer. Thanks for sharing this thoughtful well-written review.

  2. Like you, I enjoyed this one - despite the darkness and violence. I am not so sure I´ll read the next one, though.

  3. Margot and Dorte: Thank you for the comments. I appreciate your thoughts on extremely graphic portrayals of death.