Ever-dogged Bergen PI Varg Veum has to dig deep into his own past as he investigates the murder of a former classmate. Eighth in an international-bestselling series of Nordic-Noir thrillers.
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 – the once-famous lead singer of 1960s rock band The Harpers – and his estranged wife, Rebecca, Veum’s first love.
Their rekindled friendship come to an abrupt end with 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 writer.
Staalesen has never been about crashing, fast paced thrillers, his novels have always been about that slow burn, a laying of foundations, the layers piled upon one another as the chapter and the pages flipped by.
Fallen Angels was no exception except this time it was a novel of introspection, of a Veum who had to trawl his own memories, to revisit happy and not so happy times. I have to say I loved this about turn, I felt we got to see a different side to Veum, a more human, caring side, one that craved and perhaps still craved love and closeness but wariness and fear made him take a step back and retreat back within himself.
It brought him back in touch with childhood friends, with his first love, Rebecca his friends group The Harpers and the Bergen music scene they once all frequented. Staalesen was nothing if not brilliant in his ability to portray the in fighting of a band of such diverse characters, of the hangers on, the relationships, marriages and children that sprang up. What Veum and indeed, us could not understand was the sudden break up, the scattering of its members and then years later the deaths. Like Vuem we wondered if there was a connection, if maybe something traumatic had occurred, one that sent someone on a killing spree, acts of revenge.
If Staalesen gave us a glimpse of an alternative Veum he also gave us the usual dogged and pedantic Veum, the private investigator who left no stone unturned, who went where the police neither had the time or the inclination. It took him on a tour of the city of Bergen, of the surrounding area and the islands that floated off its coastline.
I felt like a tourist with the most wonderful tour guide who described the beauty of the mountains, the vastness of the sea, and the differing landscapes of the islands. It wasn’t always beauty, as we travelled to the less salubrious suburbs of the city, of the run down state of the houses the characters found themselves in. The two sides of Bergen so perfectly reflected the two sides of the novel, the light and shade Veum found himself grappling with as the stakes rose higher, as the lies and deceit became ever more tangled and the knowledge that what happened was truly shocking.
The truth when it came was indeed shocking, and whilst the perpetrator had committed crimes I knew were wrong, I somehow couldn’t blame them, could see that they felt there was no alternative, a chance to release all the pent up anger and betrayal that built over many years.
What did it mean for Veum and his friends? For me it was the closing of a chapter, something Staalesen knew he had to do for Veum before he could move him forward. Maybe Veum could now find the love and happiness that he so craved, to take that risk and open his heart to all the good things that might be to come.
Whatever Staalesen has in store for Veum you know you will still get that sense of anticipation and excitment as the new novel falls into your hands and you open the covers and immerse yourself in those first few pages.
I would like to thank Orenda for a copy of Fallen Angels to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
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.