Not the Typeface

Kjell Ola Dahl, The Courier (2015, Kureren (translated by Don Bartlett))

I had a moment of panic as I reached the last twenty pages of this book.

There appared to be a ten page leap, when in fact a cluster of pages had come adrift and had been wrongly inserted. After about 300 pages I was definitely worried that I’d miss something vital from the denouement.

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Justitia or Dike

Anne Holt, Blind Goddess (Blind Guddine (1993), translated by Tom Geddes)

I’ve temporarily stopped reading Kjell Ola Dahl‘s Gunnarstranda and Frølich novels — which I wasn’t writing up — but then I’ve only read about two books this year, both catalogues. Noodling around Bigsouthamericanriver.con I found Anne Holt, who wrote the books (including Frukta inte, on which the Copernhagen-set Modus was based). A ex-lawyer, ex-journalist, ex minister of justice in the Norwegian government, this is her first novel.

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Crime and Titillation

Kjell Ola Dahl, Lethal Investments (Dødens investeringer (1993), translated by Don Bartlett, 2011)

Lethal Investments coverJo Nesbø has been lucky – whilst they didn’t start with the first Harry Hole novel, all have been translated. Gunnar Staalersen and Jørn Lier Horst’s series have large gaps. And here Lethal Investments has made it into English, but only after a few other novels – Seksognitti (1994), Miniatyren (1996) and Siste skygge av tvil (1998) have yet to follow. At this point he was still K.O. Dahl – perhaps we would have been scared by … Kiel …? Shell…?

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Who Let the Dogs Out?

Wolves at the Door (Utenfor er Hundene (2018), translated by Don Bartlett, (2019))

wolves at the doorAnd so, rather more rapidly than expected, I’ve caught up – at least until I can get hold of Fallen Angel. If I want any more Varg Veum, I either need to read in Norwegian or watch the television movies.

Oh. Continue reading →

Sister see, sister do / She’s got to save me

Gunnar Staalesen, Big Sister (Storesøster (2016), translated by Don Bartlett (2018))

Big Sister

He automatically stepped back and tried to close the door, but I could be the pushy salesman if I wanted, so I leaned against it and followed him in before he had a chance to complete his action.

A trope of the series detective is to suddenly find a sibling, never mentioned before, from whom he is estranged. The sibling is in trouble and/or committed a crime and frankly should wearing a red jumper. Continue reading →

The Star is High Above the Dust

Gunnar Staalesen, Wolves in the Dark (Ingen er så trygg i fare (2014), translated by Don Bartlett, (2017))
wolves in the dark

No one is as safe in danger
as God’s small flock of children,
the bird is not hidden behind the leaves,
the star is high above the dust.

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A Rose is a Rose is a Rose is a Rose

Gunnar Staalesen, Where Roses Never Die (Der hvor roser aldri dør (2012), translated by Don Bartlett (2015))

So, perhaps for the first time, there’s a spoiler here for those who haven’t read the books in sequence (and I’d already done so by reading the backcover…). Hidden after the picture…
roses

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Surviving on Caffeine and a Cold Heart

Gunnar Staalesen, Cold Hearts (Kalde hjerter (2008), translated by Don Bartlett (2013))

Cold HeartsSo here I could see the end coming.

We have two interweaved plots: the Bergen criminal underworld and the Bergen charitable middle class. Varg Veum, private eye, outcast, pariah, persona non grata, is able to code switch between the levels, perhaps more acceptable to the sex workers than the professional classes or the police. Continue reading →

Wife Killers

Gunnar Staalesen, The Consorts of Death (Dødens Drabanter (2006), translated by Don Bartlett (2009))

Consorts of DeathHigh above the mountains, the moon had appeared, the earth’s pale consort, distant and alone in its eternal orbit around the chaos and turmoil below. It struck me that the moon wasn’t alone after all. There were many of us adrift and circling around the same chaos, the same turmoil, without being able to intervene or do anything about it. We were all consorts of death.

There are two things to notice about this entry in the Varg Veum series – first, it is the debut of Don Bartlett as translator; two, it is not set more or less contemporaneously with publication. Continue reading →

Nebuchadnezzar Again — or Belshazzar in Bergen

Gunnar Staalesen, The Writing on the Wall (Skriften på Veggen (1995), translated by Hal Sutcliffe (2004))

“the voracious violence of the wolf, who can also turn protective, paternal, and maternal”

writingSo, the best part of a decade has passed – Varg’s son is at university in Oslo and his wife’s new husband has died, although these seem like minuscule details, touched in passing. The friendly policeman is not mentioned, another seems to have died (I don’t recall the name) and a grumpy cop, Dankert Muus, is a week or so from retirement.

Here we have three cases that you know will intersect:
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