I just learned that author Jim Thompson died in Finland on August 2. I regret not letting you know sooner, but this tragedy slipped past us. It's a bit of a shock, as he was only 49, and died in some sort of accident. To his wife, Annika, and his son we send our heartfelt sympathies.
Jim was born in Kentucky, but moved to Helsinki, Finland in 1998 where he earned a Master's degree in English Philology from the University of Helsinki. He spoke six languages.
Thompson's first book in was 2010's Snow Angels, a dark, violent book which explored racism in Finland and followed a tough protagonist, detective Kari Vaara. Snow Angels was enormously successful, being optioned for a movie, nominated for the Edgar Award and selling some 100,000 copies in Germany alone.
Three more books in the Vaara series followed: Lucifer's Tears (2011), Helsinki White (2012) and Helsinki Blood (2013). The fifth book, Helsinki Dead, is now scheduled for a December 2015 release. Thompson also contributed to Helsinki Noir, an anthology of short crime stories.
Thompson's style is on the dark end of the "Nordic Noir" spectrum. The genre Ñ with its stark and often violent police procedurals Ñ has proved wildly successful.
The top names have come from Sweden Ñ think Stieg Larsson's "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," or Henning Mankell's "Wallander" series Ñ but Norway's Jo Nesbo and Iceland's Arnaldur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurdardottir have also made their mark with international readers.
Thompson stands out from that crowd by writing in English and telling Vaara's gritty narrative in the first person.
"My entire vision of writing books set in Finland was to demonstrate what the world is like moment to moment in the mind of an average Finnish man," Thompson once said. "The best way to do that was to narrow that lens of his thoughts."
Jim Thompson - a voice silenced much too soon.