I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Norway’s Gunnar Staalesen at Newcastle Noir Crime Writing festival. He is one of my favourite authors and I knew he had a new book coming out soon. I am so happy I got an advance copy to read and review for Orenda Books so here goes.
Wolves at the Door by Norwegian Gunnar Staalesen leads us through a dark web of deceit, lies, evil crimes and despicable characters. Someone is trying to kill Bergen based private investigator Varg Veum as well as threatening to kill those he loves. The story soon develops a strong pace as Varg leaves no stone uncovered while he investigates whose death list he is on.
The Varg Veum series of books is one that I always recommend if you enjoy getting to know a character in depth. I really savour them, much in the same way I loved reading Ian Rankin’s Rebus books. The anticipation of finding one in the series you haven’t read or waiting to buy the latest book which has been translated into English is sweet. You are guaranteed a solid read with familiar characters in a city that you feel you are getting to know more intimately as you read more of the books. In this case we read about Bergen’s high rises, historic buildings, streets, mountains and islands. Wolves at the Door is set in January. Days are short. Roads are icy. Everyone is fed up. Its dark.
“January is a lustreless month. The town still had decorations up, but it was as though all the glitter had lost its shine.”
Wolves at the Door takes the reader to a darker place than Norway in January. The minds of the abused and those who abuse them. As with many stories of abuse there is a historical element to the story which only serves to heighten the terror of the victims and the reader. The abuse keeps on coming back and poisons the lives of everyone it touches. This is a tale of vengeance and malevolence and the worst thing is that we grow to realise these abusers walk amongst us as neighbours and colleagues. The plot tests the reader as many characters are involved and it dives and ducks and keeps the reader on their toes until the end.
In Wolves at the Door Varg seems to be resigned to getting older, indeed his long standing contact Hamre at the police station is getting ready for retirement in this instalment and he is looking forward to seeing the back of Varg and his job. Varg’s relationship with partner Solvi meanders along precariously as does his PI business but there is still a spark in Varg. He will continue to use his knowledge of the city, his contacts and his dogged nature for a while longer and I will look forward to any further instalments with great pleasure.