Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Fallen Angels by Gunnar Staaleson BLOG TOUR Translated by Don Bartlett @OrendaBooks #FallenAngels #NordicNoir #VargVeum


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.

Fallen Angels by Gunnar Staalesen is published in paperback by Orenda Books on 12 November 2020. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review for this Blog Tour.

Fallen Angels is the latest instalment in the hugely popular and long-running Varg Veum series, and just proves that Gunnar Staalesen really is the King of Nordic Noir. I'm a massive fan of all things Norwegian and Fallen Angels has been a fabulous read; incorporating much more about Varg's background and teaching the reader about how Bergen, and the whole of Norway has changed over the years. 

It's a grey, snowy December day and Varg is attending the funeral of an old schoolfriend. Also attending the funeral are Jakob and Rebecca. Varg's relationship with both of them go back many years; Rebecca was his first love and Jakob and he were friends a long time ago. Jakob's rock band The Harpers, were hugely popular in the 1960s and I really loved the incorporation of a musical slant in this story.

This trip back in time is suddenly brought fully up to date when an horrific murder is discovered, and as Varg works hard to investigate, he also looks back at his past. It's interesting to note that this novel was originally published in Norway in the late 1980s and is set in that period, and also looks back to the 1960s. We learn more about Varg's younger years and his motivation and influences that have shaped his future.
The stark contrast between those past days, with the issues and ways that they were spoken about, and dealt with  are certainly not politically correct by today's standards and is fascinating to read.

As the victim count increases, so too do Varg's reflections on his younger years. The reader learns about the night that put an end to the huge success of The Harpers band and Varg comes to realise that there may be a link to those events, and the present day.

There's a poetic, lyrical quality to Staalesen's writing, he's not all action and fast-paced plot. His ability to produce much more than a thriller, with the beautifully evocative sense of place and the masterfully created characters is a joy to read.  He doesn't fear danger though, and there are parts of this story that are darker than dark; concentrating on how humans can do the most terrible things to each other, and how those things can shape people and lifetimes. 

Slowly, but very surely, the author guides us towards the shocking reveal with a feeling a menace and threat as we arrive there.

For anyone who has yet to discover the Varg Veum series, this is a great place to start. For those of us who are already familiar with Staalesen's much applauded character, Fallen Angels give a fabulous insight into the man we know and the events that made him what he is.
Translated by Don Bartlett, and with such a beautiful cover, Fallen Angels is a dark and brooding story that will delight lovers of classic Noir fiction, with the added delights of the Norwegian setting. 

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.

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