‘Verg Veum – The ‘Lone Wolf’ – is back’
– Fallen Angels
[ About the Book ]
Ever-dogged Bergen PI Varg Veum has to dig deep into his own past as he investigates the murder of a former classmate.
When Bergen PI Varg Veum finds himself at the funeral of a former classmate on a sleet-grey December afternoon, he’s unexpectedly reunited with his old friend Jakob – guitarist of the once-famous 1960s rock band The Harpers – and his estranged wife, Rebecca, Veum’s first love.
Their rekindled friendship is thrown into jeopardy by the discovery of a horrific murder, and Veum is forced to dig deep into his own adolescence and his darkest memories, to find a motive … and a killer.
Tense, vivid and deeply unsettling, Fallen Angels is the spellbinding, award-winning thriller that secured Gunnar Staalesen’s reputation as one of the world’s foremost crime writers.
[ My Review ]
Fallen Angels by Gunnar Staalesen will be published in paperback original format with Orenda Books November 12th. Described as ‘vintage, classic Nordic Noir ‘, Fallen Angels is the eighth book in this international series and is also the book that secured Staalesen’s reputation as one of the fathers of Nordic Noir. It is wonderfully translated by Don Bartlett who has worked with a wide variety of Danish and Norwegian authors, including Jo Nesbo and Karl Ove Knausgaard. Don Bartlett has also translated other books in the Varg Veum series.
Varg Veum is at the stage in his life where he is contemplating his past years and what lies ahead. Attending the funeral of a childhood buddy he bumps into his old friend, Jakob Aasen, resulting in an unexpected reunion of sorts. Jakob had married Varg’s first love, Rebecca who, as it turns out, has upped and now left Jakob. Jakob was a member of the highly successful 1960s rock band The Harpers, a band whose musical career came to an abrupt end. Varg never knew why but when the body is discovered of one of the band members, stabbed outside a club, he begins to wonder about what really happened all those years ago.
While this is all transpiring Jakob also asks Varg to track down his missing wife Rebecca, the one person that Varg has never been able to forget. Rebecca was very much part of Varg’s teenage years. His unrequited love for Rebecca has remained with him and now to have to search for her brings all sorts of memories flooding back.
Rebecca and Jakob’s relationship has been in trouble for awhile but Jakob remains hopeful that the past can be left just there letting them move on with their lives. Jakob is quite furtive and the more Varg probes, the more he realises that all is not as it seems.
While there is a murder investigation in the middle of this tale, it feels almost like an aside. Fallen Angels is very much a story about the past, about days of youth and trips down memory lane, with Bergen and the surrounding landscape taking centre stage. Gunnar Staalesen is clearly very passionate about his homeland and this filters through in the atmospheric depictions of the world he inhabits.
The characters are well portrayed but, admittedly, not too many I liked. Their behaviour was, at times, quite ghastly and, in fairness to Gunnar Staalesen, he makes no attempt to salvage them either. Now I do need to mention that there is a very dark storyline that does unveil itself as the plot picks up speed, which leaves quite a disturbing image in the mind, so be warned.
Fallen Angels is the first book I have read by Gunnar Staalesen. His other books, that have already been translated into English by Orenda Books, follow later in the series and have developed quite a following among fans of Nordic Noir. Varg Veum is a PI and, I assume, in later books his cases get darker and more gripping. Fallen Angels is very much setting the scene for the future PI. Discovering that Fallen Angels was originally published in Norway in 1989 clarified for me the period that the book was set in. I must admit I did get a little confused with the positioning of this book in the series and had to alter my original review.
Fallen Angels is a dark, brooding, slow-burning murder mystery with very vivid descriptions of Bergen and its surrounding regions. It is a book that provides a backstory for many who follow Varg Veum and are now given the opportunity to delve deeper into his personality and the reasons why he became the man he is today.
[ Bio ]
One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, 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.