Posts Tagged ‘Varg Veum’

I am delighted to be part of the blog tour for Gunnar Staalesen’s Big Sister today, and so excited that I can share a really great post with you written by the author, which I have to admit has my stomach rumbling!

But before the guest post, lets look at what Big Sister is about and where you can get a copy.



When PI Varg Veum is approached to find a missing girl, by a half-sister he barely knew, his investigation takes him deep into the dark web, and some personal history he’d rather forget…

Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office. A woman introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a 19-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her bedsit in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously.

Veum’s investigation uncovers a series of carefully covered-up crimes and pent-up hatreds, and the trail leads to a gang of extreme bikers on the hunt for a group of people whose dark deeds are hidden by the anonymity of the Internet. And then things get personal…

Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Big Sister reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.

You can buy a copy of Big Sister via:

Amazon UK


Are you hungry?

What does a private detective eat?

One of my Norwegian crime-writer colleagues, Jon Michelet (The Frozen Woman), who died this year, told me an anecdote once. One of his books was translated into Spanish, and when he was looking through it, he found that one of the chapters was much longer than it had been in the original version. He asked the translator why, and the translator replied: ‘I thought there was too little eating in this book, so I put in a good meal for your detective.’

This gave me some food for thought (excuse the pun). There are a lot of things private detectives never or very seldom do in books. They seldom go to the toilet. Do they brush their teeth sometimes? When do have they time to do the dishes? And before they do – when or what do they eat?

Of all of these activities, I think eating is the most interesting. Does my hero, Varg Veum, ever eat?

Yes, he does, from time to time – but not in every book, I am afraid. As he lives alone throughout the whole series, he has to fix his dinner himself. I know that he follows in the footsteps of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe in this regard (as well as many others), so scrambled eggs are always a good solution. As a Norwegian he will always have some smoked or dried meat in his fridge that he can add to the eggs. In my newest book he serves himself some smoked herring with potatoes, sour cream, beetroots and spring onions, which is a dish the writer also enjoys. As with ale and aquavit, the writer and his hero share similar tastes.

A real private detective should, of course, prefer a bloody beef steak with a lot of fried onions and mashed potatoes. Varg Veum would not say no to such a meal, but when I ask him what his preferred dish is, it happens to be the same as my own: bacalao. Bacalao is in fact a Spanish and / or Portuguese word that means cod. Fresh cod is delicious when you get it directly from the Artic Sea in January or February, but when Norwegians speak about bacalao, they are talking about a very special form of cod: in Norwegian klippfisk, originally fish dried on the cliffs and sprinkled with salt. When you buy it from the fishmonger’s, you have to put it in water for at least twenty-four hours before you can prepare the meal. Then you chop it up and cook it with onions, potatoes, olive oil, tomato sauce, sundried tomatoes, olives, perhaps some red pepper, perhaps garlic, and other flavourings of your choice – I myself like to add at least oregano. I have a recipe that I call ‘Varg Veum’s bacalao’, which is very popular among my friends and family. In one of the books Varg Veum goes to Ålesund, one of the important bacalao cities in Norway, on the west coast, north of Bergen. He is served bacalao at a local restaurant there, a meal he remembers as one of his best ever!

It is not a big mystery: a man has to eat to live. A private detective has to eat to solve mysteries. Bon appetite, Varg! I share my meal with you.


Gunnar Staalesen

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wolves in the dark cover


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 paedophile 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. Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Wolves in the Dark reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.

My Thoughts & Review:

Impressively, this is the 21st book in the Varg Veum series, and indeed 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the series – the sign of an amazing character and author I would say!  And whilst not all of Gunnar Staalesen’s books are not available in English, it is possible to become utterly immersed in this series as you read.  The previous books “We Shall Inherit the Wind” and “Where Roses Never Die” have been published by Orenda Books and are available to buy now.

Varg Veum is a fantastic character that most readers will take to, despite his flaws and obvious dependence on alcohol, readers will connect with him and will find they are quietly cheering him on when things get tough.
The blossoming relationship with his new girlfriend is put under immense pressure when he is arrested for being part of a paedophile ring and for the possession of child pornography.  His reputation is hanging by a very frayed thread and he needs to work out quickly who is setting him up and why.  If I say anything else about the plot I fear that I will give something away (zips mouth shut).

With a plot revolving around a sensitive topic, this could make for difficult reading.  But I do believe that Staalesen has handled it well without becoming overly graphic and certainly includes only what is necessary to enhance the plot.  This is a hard hitting novel that truly encapsulates the very essence of Scandi Noir and I can see why this series and character have been so successful.  There’s an elegance in the writing, the plot is so intricate and clever that it challenges the reader, it’s not the sort of book to half look at whilst cooking the supper that’s for sure (yes I did burn the supper whilst reading this book and no I don’t recommend taking your eyes off the oven, otherwise the toad in the hole will be VERY caramelised).
The skill in bringing Veum to life was astounding, the more I read of this book the more I felt that he was real and found myself enjoying his sense of humour.

A fantastic instalment in the series and I cannot wait for more!!

It’s only right to make mention of Don Bartlett’s translation, again an impeccable job with a seamless translation.

You can buy a copy of “Wolves in the Dark” via:
The Book Depository


My heartfelt thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for the opportunity to read an early copy of this and for inviting me to participate in the blog tour.

wolves blog tour poster


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