Where Roses Never Die – Gunnar Staalesen
The Last Word Review
I have for a while been a big fan of Nordic crime novels but I have to admit that this is my first read of Gunnar Staalesen’s novels and if his latest Where Roses Never Sleep is anything to go by then I have been missing out.
With excellent translation from Don Bartlett the writing has echoes of another of my favourite Nordic crime writers Jo Nesbo. Private investigator Varg Veum is recruited to try and solve a mystery that remains unsolved for nearly 25 years.
Just a little bit on the background of our P.I. Varg Veum, he is a lone operator, a maverick perhaps, he has become something of a drinker, this could be after the death of his girlfriend a few years before. There is something about this case that only Veum could solve.
It is September 1977 and three-year-old Mette Misvaer disappears while playing in her garden despite all efforts of the police there is trace of her. Due the laws regarding statute of limitations and that time is almost up and in a last desperate attempt to find out the truth about what really happened to Mette her mother meets Veum. From this moment Veum is involved in a case that uncovers a lot more than just 1970’s secrets and lies. Veum will leave no stone unturned as he goes about seeking the truth. For Mette’s mothers it has been nearly 25 years and time might have well stood still and she will not rest until she knows what happened to her daughter.
What begins is a journey of discovery a discovery of getting to the truth and also a journey for Varg Veum as he is a very troubled man. No-one believes he can solve this case within the time frame but never doubt this man Varg. He starts to delve in the history of the case and looking back at the people involved including the officers who handled the case. This is gripping stuff. I had a real sense of foreboding as I read through this outstanding book. This is really Scandinavian crime writing at its very best. There is something dark and haunting about this novel that will test every sinew of your emotions as the truth emerges and the shocking truth at the end.
At 260 pages this is the ideal book to slip into your bag if you are jetting off on your summer holidays. If you have not discovered Nordic crime novels before now you will not be disappointed in the crime writing of Gunnar Staalesen.
Thank you to Karen at Orenda Books for the advanced review copy.
Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen was published by Orenda Books on 30 June and is available through Waterstones and all good bookshops.