Varg Veum 8: Fallen Angles – Gunnar Staalesen

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Good morning friend!

I’ve finish my co-read with Nicole, aka BookmarkThat, and it was so much fun! She’s really experienced in reading crime and thrillers so all the way through we were able to discuss and enlighten different sides of the story which I enjoyed very much! Staalesen is one of the more established Norwegian crime authors and I haven’t read any books by him before so I decided it was a good opportunity when Nicole received it in the mail. The synopsis is borrowed from Goodreads:

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.

Every Norwegian with a literate respect for her or himself has read Staalesen. I must admit that I’ve only listened to his books previously, so it was nice to read one! Staalesen has an amazing ability to describe the setting of his stories and if you’re familiar with Bergen this makes his stories even more engaging. I’ve lived in the Bergen area for a year and it was very nice to read about the historical sites that Staalesen describes. This book is partly set in the 50’s and 60’s, and I found it enjoyable to read about this time period in Bergen. At school we normally focus on the political aspects for this period and I enjoyed reading about something else from this time period. Since I’ve encountered one of Staalesen’s books before I tried to remember how the story went and it was somewhat helpful. The Nordic Noir writing style is quite unfamiliar to me as I haven’t read that many books from my fellow countrymen in the crime novel genre, but I actually guessed parts of the secret this time! Can you believe it!? I never guess anything in a crime novel, haha. Maybe this is a hint that Nordic Noir is more my typa crime novel?

However, I would have liked some more details in parts of the story. I don’t know its me who doesn’t catch on to all the clues throughout the book, or if the design of the story is meant for the reader to do a lot of independent thinking. I’m leaning towards the latter part since there were moments during the story where I felt that I’d lost the trail but when I read a few more pages I was able to retrieve it again since it touched upon something previously in the book. This happened especially in relation to Jacob’s wife Rebecca. She was a strange character…In itself the book is rather slow paced until the threads starts coming together towards the end and the reader is dragged along without the possibility of putting the book down. At least I wasn’t able to put the book down! This made sure that the book picked up its rating from me and also in retrospect I appreciated the book’s buildup more than whilst I was reading it.

Varg Veum, our main character, must be the stereotype of worn down private detective that it seems Norwegian crime writers has become known for. I believe we get snippets of his story in the previous books and coming books in the series but in this one it is his childhood which is in focus. If you’ve read several Varg Veum books I believe you’ll have a solid impression of his character by the time you reach the eighth book but it is also a character that can evolve in many different ways after this book. In this book Veum is embossed with melancholy which has been set into motion by meeting his old friend Jacob again after many years. I find Veum to be very complex character who has quite a few traits we as readers knows little about. He is a good man at heart, and his intentions are good but I also sense that there might be some darkness in him and Staalesen does a brilliant job of portraying this without revealing too much. The book touches upon quite a few topics that people can relate to and some that needs to be spoken more of. I think people can relate to Veum’s melancholy of the old and golden days. Who doesn’t want to be young again at some point during their lives?

Fallen Angels is a slow built up crime novel but it all comes together in the end and the reader gets their curiosity satisfied unless you’ve been able to decipher the clues strewn across the book. The descriptions of the area and our main character, Veum, is solid and well executed. If you like to get your thinking cap on whilst reading crime novels then Staalesen is your man! I think I’ll pick up more books from this author later on!

Published: 1989

Genre: Nordic Noir

Theme: Friends, secrets, family, music

– The Book Reader

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