Where Roses Never Die
by Gunnar Staalesen (trans. 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 …
Last year I read We Shall Inherit The Wind, the first Varg Veum book. It was a strong offering with a good lone-wolf PI at its heart. Where Roses Never Die is even better.
The lovely bay of Bergen, not quite as remote, cold or dark your usual Scadi-setting but the coop suburb community chosen here is suitably tightly-knit. Varg Veum is not a unique character for a sleuth. He’s got his daily demons and a drink problem, and he’s got that determined, dog with a bone attitude that makes him, as a PI, more inclined to follow up leads than the local police. And, he's got enough depth to go to toe to toe with any of his rivals on the current crime fiction circuit.
A Jewellers has been robbed, the culprits seemingly disappeared into a boat never to be seen again. A store worker inside the Jewellers claimed that one of the gang was a women. The other lead concerns a man that was outside on the pavement, appearing to have spoken to a robber before being shot; the murder victim a 59 year old family man.
In a book of interconnecting crimes, Veum also assists a woman with an old case that has a neat race-against-time twist. Like Veum, this client has known deep suffering and it's interesting to see him relate to this women who is also of similar age to him.
The different investigations converge on Veum and it’s not long before he’s in the firing line. The plot grips and the PI’s dogged efforts make for a winning novel.
No One Is Safe In Danger follows next year.
About Guunnar Staalesen:
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 four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), lives in Bergen with his wife.