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 pedophile 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.
This is Staalesen's 21st book (I think! - or certainly in this series anyway, there are probably more stand alone titles in his back catalogue!) and yet it is my first. And 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of Varg Veum!
I am so impressed that Staalesen has sustained the series featuring Varg Veum over such an incredible number of books. It is obvious that this author can write crime thrillers and obvious that he has created a protagonist that captures people's hearts or heads - so much so there is a life sized statue of Varg Veum in Bergen, Staalesen's home town!
So what did I make of my first foray into the world of Varg Veum and Bergen?
Firstly, and for any of us that are not too embarrassed to admit that we have not read the previous 20 novels in this series, I think it works as a standalone. However, having read this book, I am intrigued about the backstory of Veum and the events that precede this novel leading to his destructive state of being that we find him in at the opening of the novel. I am intrigued by his character and would like to read more about him - or follow his journey from the beginning. Great protagonists need to be complex and I like it when their behaviour is perhaps not as it should be or not always as it has been in the past. When they have fallen so low that they cease to care about themselves not only creates more tension and suspense, but also offers an opportunity for the author to put them in more complex dilemmas and more dangerous scenarios. Staalesen does this with great effect.
This novel is shocking. It is about child pornography and not always easy to read. I always think it is brave and ambitious when an author tackles such subjects and I was intrigued to see how it was handled in this novel. As I said, it is shocking at times but it is also well managed and ultimately a very gripping and well paced, plot driven narrative.
The dialogue is great and very well done. It helps bring the characters and action to life. The action moves along at a good pace, aided by the short chapters. Twelve film adaptations have been made from this series of books and I am not surprised. This book certainly would adapt well to the screen; the writing already makes it easy to visual what is happening so it not unlike watching a film while you read anyway.
It's obvious Staalesen understands how to write crime and it's obvious he understands how to create a cast of characters who will provide the requisite thrills, spills, twists, turns and action that is necessary for a bestselling book in this genre. He is heralded as one of the world's foremost thriller writers and it seems to be a well founded observation.
If you like gritty, nordic noir and a story that is shocking, gripping and chilling then look no further!
Wolves in the Dark is published on the 15th June 2017 by Orenda.
Don't miss the other stops on the Blog Tour that will provide more fab reviews and posts 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. He has won three Golden Pistols and has been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger and the Petrona Awards.