A Year of Orenda – Fallen Angels by Gunnar Staalesen (translated by Don Bartlett)

Today we share Mandie’s final Varg Veum review, the latest release from Gunnar Staalesen, Fallen Angels. I really enjoyed learning about Varg’s early years in this book and you can find out how much in my review which is right here. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Owned Copy
Release Date: 25 September 2020
Publisher: Orenda Books

About the Book

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.

Tense, vivid and deeply unsettling, Fallen Angels is the spellbinding, award-winning thriller that secured Gunnar Staalesen’s reputation as one of the world’s foremost crime writers.

Mandie’s Thoughts

Fallen Angels is the latest book published by Orenda Books in the Varg Veum series and this time we get to discover much more about Varg’s past when he attends the funeral of an old school friend. Initially he is asked by his friend Jakob to find his wife Rebecca who has recently left him. Varg agrees as a favour but is not sure that he really wants to come face with her, after all she was his first love. As he starts to reconnect with the people he once knew well, he finds himself caught up in the middle of a murder investigation. Never one to leave things alone he sets out to find out who is responsible.

Throughout this book we get snippets of Varg’s childhood as he remembers sometimes fondly and sometimes not so fondly of events that shaped them all, however it is events of a slightly more recent time that are the backdrop for what he finds himself in the middle of. As he digs deeper, he finds that everyone is reluctant to provide information as to what really happened in 1975 but he is sure that whatever it is, it holds the key.

As you get further into the book and past events are revealed, at times it can become quite disturbing. It is down to the skill of Gunnar Staalesen that at no time do you feel that the topic is too graphic or sensationalised. Except for Varg and the ultimate victim in this story the remaining characters have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Where you may feel sorry for some of them at the start, by the end you get the distinct feeling that their lives are what they deserve, and you can understand why Varg wants little to do with any of them again.

Fallen Angels can very easily be read on its own as this was actually book 8 in the series and certainly has a different feel and pace to the other books I have read so far. I think that is possibly my favourite as we are getting to see a different Varg Veum, one that who is not yet quite so jaded, or affected by the cases he has had to deal with. The determination to find the truth no matter what is clearly there as is his sense for justice. With the fantastic descriptions of the ever changing seasons and scenery I am falling in love with Norway almost as much as I am with Staalesen’s writing and can’t wait for what comes next in this series

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

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