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Burning Down Stockholm

Thank You, Finland!

Disappearing, a book in the garbage, and nice critics


BLOOD          uk-hb-hardcover

Chin Wag At The Slaughterhouse: Interview With James Thompson, by Richard Godwin

All is well here in Helsinki. The book launch of Helsinki Blood was a success that exceeded my expectations. It did so well that sales from my backlist shot up with it, some to record levels! I couldn’t ask for more than that. In other news:

An interview with Associated Press went viral in December, was reproduced thousands of times worldwide and read by millions, maybe tens of millions of people. Must have been a slow news week. Here’s the article.

Sadly, my Finnish publisher and I have parted ways. I began my career with Johnny Kniga, an imprint of WSOY/Bonnier. Then managing editor, Jaska Pietäläinen, and publisher Jyrki Nieminen, took a big chance branding me as a domestic Finnish author, and they treated me exceedingly well. They will always have my gratitude. Things change, and we developed, as they say, irreconcilable differences. I wish everyone at both Kniga and WSOY/Bonnier well.

On a more positive note, I’ve contacted with Putnam, for world right English rights, for two more novels. That covers between 50-70 countries and territories. I haven’t counted, but it includes everywhere from the U.S. and UK to Rwanda and Iraq. Basically everywhere. I also have new deals in Turkey and Japan. And the London book fair is this week. Who knows what will happen there.

I’ve developed a solid reader base in China. I haven’t figured that how that happened yet. Interesting fan mail: the Chinese take on my work.

It’s a very good sign when the Washington Post reviews your backlist. I was pleased to see these.

Washington Post

Book World: ‘Lucifer’s Tears,’ by James Thompson

Helsinki White Review

Strangely, my website has been profiled on a site that recommends religious sites. Call me Reverend Jim.

Amazon has an author program which allows to me do a number of things. I can check my sales ranks on Amazon, see my sales at brick and mortar stores around the country, and a number of other things. One of them is check my latest reviews. I read all my reviews, they’re a great education tool. That said, I don’t pay too much attention to any one of them because I’ve read at least a thousand of them in English, and believe it or not, am now collected reviews in the other eleven languages I’m published in at present. I rebuilt my website, , and included a large international section for my non-English speaking readers. A work in progress. I love getting my author’s copies from around the world and getting the different cultural takes on how they should be presented. Last week I got copies from Holland and Japan. Awesome! Especially the Japanese version of Snow Angels. I have no idea how that happened.

Anyway, yesterday, these were the three newest Amazon reviews, in order. I took away names and just left the text. Here you go.

Helsinki Blood: Forced myself to finish Hated it. The whole thing was boring and preposterous. There's no longer any mystery or semblance of police work. Just a random group of violent jerks. Every character sucks except the mysterious child Anu. And she doesn't suck because she barely exists on the page. Why would he give the hero a daughter only to make her a faceless featureless infant that has no needs and doesn't make a sound? She's a prop. This author either has no children and doesn't even know any parents or I feel VERY sorry for any offspring he has. I'm done with this dude's books. The first was the only one worth reading.”


Helsinki Blood: Thompson just gets better and better Thompson just gets better and better. Many authors try to paint a picture of their flawed main characters in a believable way. Few have done it as well as the author has here. If for no other reason read this book just to get to know Inspector Kari Varaa. You won't be disappointed.”

Gosh, what is an author to believe? Well, I promise not to write any how-to books on childrearing. It seems from comments that the reader expected one, not a crime novel. I do, however, have a little experience with such things. When my son was born, his mother and I moved to a different city because I had no work. We moved to find jobs. For quite a while, I was a stay at home dad with a newborn. He turned out well, is a really nice guy, and I would describe our relationship as the best of friends as well as father and son. I will admit that his squalling as an infant sometimes got on my nerves. I will refrain from further comment except to say that I believe any parent who says a baby screaming its lungs out never feels grated nerves is a liar.

But back to reviews, I have some favorite quotes, and I’ll share some here, so that when I need an ego boost, I can come back and read them.

“The laconic voice of inspector Kari Vaara is at the same time dangerous and human, his world cold, barren, yet intriguingly exotic, his story fast, brutal, yet told with a sort of laid-back calm.” Peter Hoeg, author of Smilla's Sense of Snow

“Thompson’s writing remains as razor sharp and exquisitely evocative as readers have come to expect and appreciate. He also continues to demonstrate that he is without peer when it comes to combining intense and engaging storytelling with intelligent and provocative commentary about extremely serious societal issues. And while it’s both entertaining and enlightening, Helsinki White is not a passive reading experience. Readers better come ready to engage in critical examination of not just the story, but their own beliefs and ideals as well. Kari Vaara and James Thompson both demand nothing less.” Elizabeth White—syndicated columnist

Polish cover of Snow Angels: [Inspector Vaara is] "the detective Simon Beckett would write, if he lived in the Arctic Circle."

A review from me you can use Jim: "I think Jim Thompson is the best damn living writer named Jim Thompson on this green earth."—Jim Sullivan (legendary Boston rock journalist and old friend)

“Hamlet has always been Shakespeare’s most popular play, and some of our best contemporary writers and filmmakers, from Martin Scorsese to Cormac McCarthy, have found a large audience without sacrificing their ability to view violence as something other than an excuse for easy heroics. To take a noteworthy recent example, the superb new crime novelist James Thompson has written two books – Snow Angels and Lucifer’s Tears – that combine his extraordinary skills as a stylist and storyteller with his mature and moving sense of the costs that violence exacts from individuals and from society as a whole… The poet had a keen understanding of violence and its place in culture, and I think what Yeats writes here is imbued with meaning. From “Meditations in Time of Civil War,” 1923. “We had fed the heart on fantasies. / The heart’s grown brutal from the fare.” The New Haven Review

“Nazi collaboration, government cover-ups, kinky sex, a baby daughter waiting impatiently to be born and a vigilante-minded hero who talks back to his boss more irreverently than Dirty Harry. What more could you want?”—Kirkus (starred review) (Lucifer’s Tears)

About Helsinki Blood: “This savage novel is a metaphor for a society that has gone mad.” -  E. Bukowsky

[Thompson is] “The American master of Nordic noir.” – David J. Cord, Helsinki Times

“There is a combination here of a precise cold scalpel and humanity. Thompson is an inheritor of Gothic Noir, and creator of the detached and involved, the ruined and redeemed Vaara, an Inspector who embodies all the contradictions that inhabit a life.” – Richard Godwin

And I found the reviews from Booklist of the entire Inspector Vaara series in their archives. I think overviews like this are interesting. I haven’t had time to re-read them yet, so I hope they’re positive.

Best, Jim

James Thompson Helsinki, Finland April 14, 2013

With his first internationally published novel, Snow Angels, James Thompson proved himself Finland’s best and most popular representative in the rise of Nordic noir. It was selected as one of Booklist’ s Best Crime Novel Debuts of the Year and nominated for an Edgar Award, an Anthony Award, and a Strand Critics Award. His novel, Lucifer’s Tears, has received critical acclaim from all quarters, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus, and was selected as one of the best novels of the year by Kirkus. Helsinki White was released to critical acclaim in 2012. The fourth book in the series, Helsinki Blood, was published in March, 2013 to rave reviews. He is also a reviewer for The New York Journal of Books and holds a Master’s degree from The University of Helsinki. The first three books in his Inspector Vaara series have been optioned for film.