Bitter Flowers by Gunnar Staalesen trs Don Bartlett @OrendaBooks

Source: Review copy:
Publication: ebook out now; p/back 20 jan 2022
PP: 276
ISBN-13: 978-1913193089

Fresh from rehab, Norwegian 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 a challenging assignment arrives on his desk.

A man is found dead in an elite swimming pool and a young woman has gone missing. Most chillingly, Varg 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 apparently unrelated crimes come together, against the backdrop of a series of shocking environmental crimes, Varg Veum faces the most challenging, traumatic investigation of his career.

This is the 9th in the Varg Veum series, though each can be read as a stand-alone. Translated into English for the first time, this is Veum in slightly more vulnerable mode. Fresh out of rehab with an anti-alcohol implant, Varg is looking forward to an easy job, taken so that he can recuperate at leisure. He’s going to caretake an architect’s house; a job he’s got through his massage therapist in rehab – a woman with whom he has struck up a platonic friendship – though he’d prefer more.

But as he’s touring the house with her for the first time, when they find a dead body – and then she disappears.

At the best of times Varg has an edgy relationship with the police, and this time is no exception, not least because he’s initially considered a suspect. Forging ahead on his own, he discovers information that leads to past crimes.

As always, Staalesen’s settings are gloriously distinctive. You revel in the cold air; feel the chilled waters of the fjords soak into your skin and enjoy the fantastic vistas from the mountains. As Veum investigates his questions lead him to environmental campaigners and a deadly cover up and his life is put in the line as he gets closer to the truth.

Varg Veum is a dogged, determined detective and at times you can’t help but feel sorry for him; at others you question his attitudes, especially towards women. But you can’t help but admire his steadfast refusal to settle for anything other than the truth; whatever the cost.

Verdict: A complex, layered plot in which human tragedy and mystery combine to play out beautifully in a classic Nordic noir with a touch of Christie to finish.

Orenda Books                                  Waterstones                                     Bookshop.org

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-three titles, which have been published in twenty-six 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 currently being filmed. 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.

Published by marypicken

Passionate book reader. Love all kind of books from 19th century novels to crime thrillers. My blog is predominantly crime, psychological thrillers and police procedurals with a good helping of literary fiction thrown in.

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