It’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Big Sister, which is book 20 in the Varg Veum series by Gunnar Staalesen (translation by Don Bartlett). It is Nordic Noir meets modern day crime, and it changes the perception of Scandinavian countries. Forget the image of the easygoing and law-abiding people, immerse yourself in the darker side of the Nordic people.
About the Author
Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over five million copies.
Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, and a further series is being filmed now. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, lives in Bergen with his wife.
Translation by Don Bartlett
About the book
PI Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office from a woman who introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a nineteen-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her bedsit in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously.
Veum’s investigation uncovers a series of carefully covered-up crimes and pent-up hatreds, and the trail leads to a gang of extreme bikers and to a shadowy group, whose dark actions are hidden by the anonymity of the Internet. And then things get personal…
Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Big Sister reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.
Varg seemed a little less cantankerous in this book and a lot more amicable. I suppose discovering that the mother you thought you knew isn’t the woman everyone else remembers is a bit of a surprise, and finding out you have a half-sister to boot is a wee bit of a shock.
Norma turns up out of the blue to tell him they are related and to ask Varg whether he will look for her missing god-daughter Emma. He instinctively feels compelled to help, despite the fact his sister is vague and secretive about the facts concerning Emma and her disappearance.
Once again Varg finds himself embroiled in the dangerous world of criminal biker gangs. The only difference this time is the fact a crime committed many decades ago becomes the catalyst in this violent and brutal storyline, at the same time it is also a very emotional one.
Staalesen subtly highlights the often fragile relationships between family members and the instinctual call of blood. Can a stranger become more than that within a short period of time just because they share DNA or a blood relationship with you? The revelation of Norma and her secret existence makes Varg wonder about his own truth, which is further amplified when a cousin suggests his own past may not be as straightforward as he was led to believe.
All the revelations make him even more determined to find the young girl noone seems to be looking for. She has simply slid off the radar and now the only person trying to find her is Varg, and he wouldn’t be the ‘doesn’t give a hoot’ kind of guy readers have come to appreciate if he didn’t accidentally stumble upon more nefarious crimes during the execution of his job.
Staalesen presents us with a softer and more reflective Varg this time. Don’t get me wrong, he still portrays him as a person possessed when it comes to sniffing out the truth and getting justice for victims, but this time he is less grumpy and sarcastic about it all.
It is Nordic Noir meets modern day crime, and it changes the perception of Scandinavian countries a wee bit. Forget the image of the easygoing and law-abiding people, immerse yourself in the darker side of the Nordic people. It’s emotional without being soppy, whilst taking the reader on an action packed ride. The author doesn’t placate the reader with happy endings, instead he forces them to stare into the face of reality.
Publisher Orenda books orendabooks.co.uk