Title: Where Roses Never Die
Author: Gunnar Staalesen
Publisher: Orenda Books
Publication Date: 30 June 2016
I am delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for the fantastic Scandinavian crime thriller, Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen (translated by Don Bartlett.
September 1977. Mette Misvær, a three-year-old girl, disappears without trace from the sandpit outside her home. Her tiny, close, middle-class community in the tranquil suburb of Nordas is devastated, but their enquiries and the police produce nothing. Curtains twitch, suspicions are raised, but Mette is never found. Almost 25 years later, as the expiry date for the statute of limitations draws near, Mette’s mother approaches PI Varg Veum, in a last, desperate attempt to find out what happened to her daughter. As Veum starts to dig, he uncovers an intricate web of secrets, lies and shocking events that have been methodically concealed. When another brutal incident takes place, a pattern begins to emerge ...
Chilling, shocking and full of extraordinary twists and turns, Where Roses Never Die reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost crime writers
Thank you to Orenda Books for providing me with an advanced review copy of Where Roses Never Die for review.
Gunnar Staalesen is described as being one of the ‘fathers of Nordic Noir’. Having published over 20 novels in 24 different countries, he is best known for his crime novels involving Private Investigator Varg Veum (great name!). Where Roses Never Die is the sixth book in the Varg Veum series. I have never read one of Staalesen’s works before and being a big fan of Scandinavian crime thrillers I was eager to read Where Roses Never Die.
The book opens with Veum meeting the mother of a child who disappeared almost 25 years earlier. The statute of limitations is about to expire and she just wants to know what happened to her little girl.
The plot is well thought-out and cohesive, although containing a somewhat sensitive subject matter. With two seemingly unrelated crimes - a 25 year old child abduction and a recent jewellery store robbery – Veum is not convinced that they are not in some way connected. It seems too coincidental when one man is linked to both crimes…
The narrative is enthralling and draws the reader into the investigation, offering a complex web to untangle. The tale seems to maintain an effortless flow as Veum follows the clues in order to get to the bottom of the mystery behind Mette’s disappearance. As in all good crime fiction, there are numerous twists and turns to keep the reader’s attention gripped.
The story is dark and there is a deeply psychological aspect to the tale, both in Veum’s personal struggles and in exploring the uneasy community in which the missing girl lived. Staalesen does a great job of seamlessly knitting together past history and the present in order to ensure that the reader is left in no doubt as to the background to the present day investigation.
Characterisation within the book is very interesting. Varg Veum is a great reminiscent protagonist. Like of a lot of his fellow detectives/PI’s – he is flawed but likable. It is made clear from the story that he has suffered a significant loss in the recent past and is struggling to recover emotionally from that trauma, turning to alcohol in a bid to cope. He faces a daily struggle between giving in to the bottle or staying sufficiently sober to allow him a real chance of uncovering what really happened to Mette before the statute of limitation expires. Veum certainly has his shortcomings, yet he throws himself into the investigation and I had little doubt that he would succeed in his endeavours.
I found Where Roses Never Die to be a tense, dark and engrossing tale. Staalesen certainly has a talent for weaving a story! It was an absorbing and unsettling read and one which I thoroughly enjoyed. A fantastic example of ‘Nordic Noir’. I am now keen to read more of Staalesen’s back catalogue. Highly recommended for fans of Scandinavian crime fiction.
About the Author
Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 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 seies is being filmed now. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), lives in Bergen with his wife. There is a life-sized statue of Varg Veum in the centre of Bergen.
You can catch up or follow the ongoing tour at the following sites:-