Well this really is one of the books that we started this whole Year of Orenda for. One of two books celebrating its fifth anniversary today, We Shall Inherit The Wind is the first of the Varg Veum titles published under the Orenda banner and, I believe, remains one of their best selling titles to date. Having now finally read it, I can understand why. A very happy anniversary to Gunnar Staalesen and all at Orenda Books. I have loved getting this further insight into Varg’s life and my gosh, what an impact this book has. This also marks the start of a full week of all things Varg Veum as we celebrate the works of Gunnar Staalesen.
Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
1998. Varg Veum sits by the hospital bedside of his long-term girlfriend Karin, whose life-threatening injuries provide a deeply painful reminder of the mistakes he’s made. Investigating the seemingly innocent disappearance of a wind-farm inspector, Varg Veum is thrust into one of the most challenging cases of his career, riddled with conflicts, environmental terrorism, religious fanaticism, unsolved mysteries and dubious business ethics. Then, in one of the most heart-stopping scenes in crime fiction, the first body appears…
A chilling, timeless story of love, revenge and desire, We Shall Inherit the Wind deftly weaves contemporary issues with a stunning plot that will leave you gripped to the final page. This is Staalesen at his most thrilling, thought-provoking best.Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books
Well this book really knows how to tap into your emotions … From the very start we know that something serious has happened, that Varg’s life is about to change, and not in a positive way. What follows is the discovery of what happens to bring us to this point. What drives Varg to become the man that I have met when reading later books in the series. And what a discovery it is.
This is a complex case, part missing person investigation, part environmental thriller, and very quickly we find ourselves immersed in a story that will shock, surprise and, ultimately satisfy, in the assured and absorbing way that Gunnar Staalesen is so good at. Invited to look for missing businessman, Mons Mæland, by his wife Ranveig, Varg Veum soon learns that there is far more to the story than a simple disappearance. Faced with a family who have very different views over the direction that their company should take, and a dark past in which the missing man’s first wife died suddenly, it is very clear that nothing is as it is first presented.
Veum’s investigations lead him to Brennøy and a proposal to build a large wind farm, something that meets a lot of resistance from environmentalists and people who believe the island should be left as it is. What Mæland’s part is in all of this, Veum has yet to uncover. Gunnar Staalesen really captures the sense of distrust that surrounded this, at that point in time, new technology, the fears over its establishment destroying the environment and creating an eyesore. It is still an argument that persists today, let’s face it, in spite of the environmental advantages of wind power over fossil or nuclear fuels. But is it enough to make a man disappear.
This is a complex investigation with so many threads, all pulled together with the skill and surety of a master craftsman, until we are left with a picture which is both dramatic but satisfying. Murder, suspect land deals, changing priorities and even sabotage lead our investigator to make some dark and often surprising, discoveries. Gunnar Staalesen excels in. creating characters who set you on edge, ones you know that you cannot completely trust, but making them believable, if not always likeable. Varg Veum, however, is someone who you immediately trust. Even if this were your first introduction to him, he is the kind of character who just draws you in. Written in first person as readers we discover everything just as Veum does. Experience his highs and lows, his emotional reactions to what he sees about him. He is a not a character driven to over reaction, his stoic nature keeping us grounded in the story, but still on edge and as keen as he is to see an end to the investigation.
This is not a fast paced investigation, but that is not to say it is without its moments of adrenaline pumping action. The final discovery of Mons Mæland is quite startling, and the scenes towards the end when the person responsible for his disappearance is finally uncovered is pacy, full of edge of the seat tension and a chase that pushes Veum, and the readers, right to the limit. The clues are all there and if you pay close attention you may work some of it out before Veum, but the author still manages to keep some aces up his sleeve, keeping my attention held right to the last page. It left me with such a mix of emotions. Sympathy for Veum and for Karin, but also a hunger to read more. There is just something about this series, the way in which Gunnar Staalesen is able to capture the spirit of his characters on the page, the way the dialogue is perfectly balanced within the narrative and serves to drive the action. How the scenery is painted in shades so vivid that feel as though you are there, right in the heart of the Norwegian landscape, that really pulls you into the story.
Gunnar Staalesen takes you on a journey that you just don’t want to end even though, from the very start, you know that there is an inevitability about what is to come. Happy Anniversary Mr Staalesen. What a book. Most definitely recommended – I’m just sorry it has taken me this long to read it.
About the Author
One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty-three titles, which have been published in twenty-six 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 series is currently being filmed. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, lives in Bergen with his wife.
Books by Gunnar Staalesen