The Mysterious Bookshop

Thompson, James, Helsinki Noir

The 14 stories in this Akashic noir anthology provide a bizarre and gruesome window into this outwardly tranquil and snow-covered city of Helsinki. True fans of the macabre will enjoy some of the more disturbing tales, such as Jukka Petäjä’s “Snowy Sarcophagus,” in which the bodies of two women are discovered preserved in life-size snowmen, and Antti Tuomainen’s “The Script,” which told from the point of view of a Finnish film and television producer who also happens to be a serial rapist. The vignette-like entries range in quality, from the stereotypical murder-for-the-inheritance scheme in Joe L. Murr’s “The Silent Woman” to the original and eccentric take on Christmas in which a female security guard disguises herself as Santa Claus to expose the thieves among the staff in Leena Lehtolainen’s “Kiss of Santa.” Readers should be prepared to keep the lights on at night after finishing this unnerving collection. Sadly, editor and contributor Thompson, an American who lived in Finland, died Aug. 2, 2014.