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.
Character development is rare in a book series, many writers settling for the story and never revealing the hidden depths of the character you thought you knew inside out. In Fallen Angels by Gunner Staalesen, the writer surprised and delighted me by taking Veum into his past and writing a narrative that reveals lost friendships, first loves and danger that have catastrophic effects on the present. I loved how it gave him a greater sense of depth, helping us to him to understand how he was shaped by all the events in his childhood. I felt closer to him as a character by the end and intensely moved by his reactions to what happens. I did not think I could love him more, but by the end of Fallen Angels, this flawed, but principled character had been made even more real, because the writer takes us inside his head and allows us to experience his fears and his very real terror.
It is written in language that makes you feel if you could step off the page into the cold, restless streets of his home. It is such a magnificent part of this book, because the danger around Veum feels almost like it is vibrating off the page. The writer and translator capturing the tension as it builds and envelops the reader. It left me utterly broken. The quietness of the revelation at the heart of this book, having more of any impact, because in the moments of silence, between the words and sentences, you’re painfully aware of the horror the tortured soul of the killer seeking to silence the hurt pulsating down the years and exploding into the present. It makes for a compulsive read, you might feel the need to turn away, but knowing that something of great darkness may be around the corner you read on.
I’m not sure what Gunner Staalesen can do to top this, but I have faith he can.
But why not consider ordering it from your local independent bookstore?
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) and Where Roses Never Die won the 2017 Petrona Award for Nordic Crime Fiction, and Big Sisterwas shortlisted in 2019. He lives with his wife in Bergen.
About the translator
Don Bartlett completed an MA in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia in 2000 and has since worked with a wide variety of Danish and Norwegian authors, including Jo Nesbø and Gunnar Staalesen’s Varg Veum series: We Shall Inherit the Wind, Wolves in the Darkand the Petrona award-winning Where Roses Never Die. He also translated Faithless, the previous book in Kjell Ola Dahl’s Oslo Detective series for Orenda Books. He lives with his family in a village in Norfolk