#BlogTour Bitter Flowers by Gunnar Staalesen

It’s my turn on the BlogTour Bitter Flowers by Gunnar Staalesen, translated by Don Bartlett. ‘A vintage classic from the award-winning, multi-million bestselling Norwegian author Gunnar Staalesen, available in English for the very first time.’

About the Author

One of the fathers of Nordic Noir, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty titles, which have been published in twenty-four countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Espen Seim. 

Staalesen has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour); Where Roses Never Die won the 2017 Petrona Award for Nordic Crime Fiction, and Big Sister was shortlisted in 2019. He lives with his wife in Bergen.

About the book

Fresh from rehab, PI Varg Veum faces his most complex investigation yet, when a man is found drowned, a young woman disappears, and the case of a missing child is revived. The classic Nordic Noir series continues…

PI Varg Veum has returned to duty following a stint in rehab, but his new composure and resolution are soon threatened when three complex crimes land on his desk.

A man is found dead in an elite swimming pool. A young woman has gone missing. Most chillingly, Veum is asked to investigate the ‘Camilla Case’: an eight-year-old cold case involving the disappearance of a little girl, who was never found.

As the threads of these three apparently unrelated cases come together, against the backdrop of a series of shocking environmental crimes, Veum faces the most challenging, traumatic investigation of his career.

Review

This book finds Varg just out of rehab and ready to get down to the nitty-gritty of the toxicity of the world of crime and criminals he appears to be surrounded by. The cold case of a missing child, the drowning of a young man and the disappearance of a young woman.

Varg’s freshly found stability is shaken, not stirred, by a complex combination of cases. On the surface they are seemingly unrelated until Varg starts drawing the threads together an making connections, where other people see none he starts unraveling a cleverly constructed cloak of silence.

I’m pretty sure I said this about the last Varg Veum book, but this is the best yet. It really hit the nail on the head for me. This psychological thriller is paced meticulously and superbly executed. A random set of circumstances equals an insidious deadly plot.

The author delivers a scathing commentary on the inequality of life, especially when it comes weighing up the worth of a human being and actual monetary profit. That parallel is drawn across multiple thread, whilst connecting a strong set of characters.

Simultaneously it has the Nordic Crime flair Staalesen is known for, and of course the acerbic personality of his character Varg is a delight as always. As always a riveting read.

Buy Bitter Flowers at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon comAt Orenda Books.

#BlogTour Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen

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.

Follow @OrendaBooks

Translation by Don Bartlett

Buy Big Sister

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.

Review

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.

Buy Big Sister at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Paperback pub date 20 June 2018

Publisher Orenda books orendabooks.co.uk