Wolves In The Dark by Gunnar Staalesen – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

PI Varg Veum fights for his reputation, his freedom and his life, when child pornography is found on his computer and he is arrested and jailed. Worse still, his memory is a blank…
Reeling from the death of his great love, Karin, Varg Veum’s life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts.
When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he’s accused of being part of a paedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material… and who is seeking the ultimate revenge.
When a chance to escape presents itself, Varg finds himself on the run in his hometown of Bergen. With the clock ticking and the police on his tail, Varg takes on his hardest – and most personal – case yet.

My Review

Wolves in the Dark is the latest in the long running series by Gunnar Staalesen and the publication in English coincides with the 40th anniversary of Varg Veum. Jo Nesbo describes the author as a Norwegian Chandler and I find the description is accurate. However, I feel that Veum is a more damaged character than Marlowe.
Veum is slowly starting to rebuild his life when he is arrested and charged by the police for images found on his computer. When he manages to escape during an interview he is determined to clear his name and work out who from his past could have framed him. Whilst the subject matter of the book is one that had me slightly dubious there was no graphic detail. Most of the novel concerns Veum trying to recall which clients he had let down recently.
I like Veum. This is only the second book that I have read in the series and in the previous book he was just starting to enjoy life again. The events in this novel could very well have been a personal set back but his girlfriend believed in him, which considering what he was accused of was very brave. I liked his ‘relationship’ with Madonna, which helped show the caring side to him. I also liked his determination to work back through his old cases, most of which were blurred by alcohol and grief to clear his name. And at the same time solve the cases that he had failed to do at the time.
Whilst I read a lot of crime fiction this series is unusual with the lead character being in his late fifties rather than a younger man. It suggests that the novels have been written in real time over the forty year period rather than a shorter time frame.
The ending left me eager to know what happens next, I hope it isn’t a long wait. I’m also optimistic that the earlier books will be translated. I would love to get to know more about Veum.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
You can pre-order the book at Amazon or Waterstones

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Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen

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September 1977. Mette Misvær, a three-year-old girl disappears without trace from the sandpit outside her home. Her tiny, close middle-class community in the tranquil suburb of Nordas is devastated, but their enquiries and the police produce nothing. Curtains twitch, suspicions are raised, but Mette is never found. Almost 25 years later, as the expiry date for the statute of limitations draws near, Mette’s mother approaches PI Varg Veum, in a last, desperate attempt to find out what happened to her daughter. As Veum starts to dig, he uncovers an intricate web of secrets, lies and shocking events that have been methodically concealed. When another brutal incident takes place, a pattern begins to emerge … Chilling, shocking and full of extraordinary twists and turns, Where Roses Never Die reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writer.

My Review:

Where Roses Never Die is the first book I have read by Gunnar Staaleson. It’s a great introduction to the Private Investigator Varg Veum. He is a troubled man, very much alone for the last three years and spending too much time drowning his sorrows in Aquavit.

When he is asked to try and find out what happened to Mette Misvær twenty-five years earlier he uses the case to try and get back on his feet, both emotionally and financially. The local police tolerate him and there is definitely bad feeling with at least one of them.

The case is all about uncovering secrets, and there are plenty of them. Some are seedy and Varg struggles to hide his disapproval. Some are devastating and cause more suffering when he forces memories to be discussed.

I loved Varg’s character. He was a morally strong, often cynical person who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind even if it meant getting hurt. All sides of society were present, the ones who were down on their luck and wanted to stay invisible and the ones who had no regard for anybody else.  And all felt very believable.

I hope the earlier books will all be translated, at the moment there are three that have been. I would like to read them in order and get to know more about Varg.

With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received. Details of the blog tour are below.

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