Varg Veum Thriller #21
In the early hours of a ” dull September day,” Varg Veum is lifted from hs bed by the Hordaland Police on the charge of child pornography. His computer is filled with disgusting and shocking paedophilic photos and that is all the evidence they need to find him guilty. While he desperately tries to stay calm and focused, Varg fiercely refutes the allegations and demands the presence of his lawyer, Vidar Waagenes. This does not make him look less guilty in the eyes of the Police …
Presented with the Police evidence, even Vidar Waagenes has trouble believing his client’s innocence but as he and Varg go way back, he at least tries his best to investigate. Why is there child pornography on Varg’s computer and, if he did not download it himself, who had access to his computer? Whoever bears a grudge, big enough to set such a compromising trap for Varg must hate him but Varg has no idea what this is about. The fact, that he has been barely sober for the last few years does not help either: he has no idea where to look for his enemy. Sitting in a cell, awaiting his appearance before the Magistrate, Varg has all the time in the world to review his most recent cases. He needs names but draws a blank time and again. He knows he needs to remember but at the same time, his mind refuses to cooperate. He is trying to think back and remember his cases in the dark time after Karin’s death, which had left him so devastated and desperate to drown it all out by turning to the bottle. He realises he would barely recognise let alone remember the clients seeking his advice in recent years.
Now there is no escaping the past: Varg has to dig deep to find the one responsible for this elaborate scheme to set him up. Whilst a computer expert examines Varg’s laptop for evidence of tampering, Varg sits in his cell, trying to suppress his panic. If he is ever to be free again, united with his girlfriend Solvi and her young daughter, Helene, he has to go back through the last four years of darkness. There was an investigation into a man called Sturle Heimark for which Varg had to visit the rural town of Fusa where he threw out a feeler about a supposed suicide being murder and discovered an alibi which did not hold up. There was a man, Nicolai Clausen, demanding that Varg produces evidence of his wife, Åsne’s, affair. While Varg observes her office, he spots a man he met in Fusa, Hjalmar Hope. A confrontation with Åsne precedes catastrophic events. With every memory surfacing, Varg has more research to do to find who is responsible for framing him. Chances are he will find himself in prison for life.
I have seen the television detective series featuring Trond Espen Seim as Varg Veum, the shabby detective who easily antagonises people and finds himself time and again in dangerous situations and I welcomed the opportunity to read the 21st (!) instalment in this popular series by Gunnar Staalesen. This first-person narrative is simply great. At first, I had trouble (just like the protagonist, I presume) in finding my way through the different people Varg came across in his various investigations and I could not believe any self-respecting man would care to walk around in a sort of drunken state all of the time. To put it mildly, who would hire a drunken fool, clearly past his detective days? But slowly, with every person involved and every new piece of information available, I became eager to find out what was going on. Who was clever enough to frame the detective and, more importantly, for what reason? I love being presented with the facts and then slowly unravelling the plot until the conclusion is reached. Might I say that I had early suspicions as to the culprit(s), even though I hated the constant unsubstantiated accusations Varg uttered? An enjoyable and thrilling Nordic noir with a chilling plotline, written in a cynical style and the utterly disturbing topic of paedophilia.
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 Espen Seim, and a further series is being filmed now. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), and been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger and the Petrona Awards, lives in Bergen with his wife. when Prince Charles visited Bergen, Staalesen was appointed his official tour guide. There is a life-sized statue of Varg Veum in the centre of Bergen. ‘We Shall Inherit the Wind’ and ‘Where Roses Never Die’ were both international bestsellers.
Don Bartlett is the foremost translator of Norwegian, responsible for the multi-award-winning bestselling books by Jo Nesbo, Karl Ove Knausgaard and Per Petterson. That makes Don Bartlett’s translation of Gunnar Staalesen’s books special as it is rare, to have a translator who is as well-known and highly regarded as the author. Don Bartlett, who lives in Norfolk and completed an MA in Literary Translation, has previously translated ‘The Consorts of Death’ and ‘Cold Hearts’ in the Varg Veum series.
*2017 marks the 40th Anniversary of Varg Veum*
|Publisher||Orenda Books (15 Jun. 2017)|
|Language||English (original language Norsk, translated by Don Bartlett)|