Although born in the U.S., Thompson has spent the last 10 years living in Finland and has a good handle on the cultural aspects of Finnish life. Those kinds of details help draw interest in the initial pages of Lucifer's Tears, but too much of the story turns on a bewildering array of Finnish wars and conflicts between the Russian Revolution of 1917 and Word War II, and conspiracy theories about who really did what during them. Thompson develops Vaara quite well and does a decent job with Kate, but many of the rest of the characters are straight out of central casting: swaggering Russian businessman, the weak bureaucrat police commissioner, and so on. He tries to create some family tension -- Kate's brother John drinks too much, and her sister is an Evil Religious Right-Winger, but both are such caricatures that they add nothing real to the story.
Thompson wraps things up with chain of coincidences that is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen -- and I've read three Dan Brown novels. A lot of murder mysteries and crime novels rest on things coinciding a little bit better than they do in real life, but Lucifer's Tears concludes with so many of them it gives the impression Thompson looked at his watch, said "Wow, look at the time!" and typed, "And then the butler did it. The end!" No, that's not a spoiler. There's no butler in the book. The decision to write the whole novel in the present tense adds to the smack of artificiality and contrived vibe Lucifer's Tears offers. After sampling the series with it, I'm content to trust Inspector Vaara to keep Finland safe without any more monitoring from me.