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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The Fool Crying Wolf

Gunnar Staalesen, We Shall Inherit the Wind (Vi skal arve vinden (2010), translated by Don Bartlett (2015))

We Shall Inherit

He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart. Proverbs 11:29

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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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In the Dark

Gunnar Staalesen, At Night All Wolves Are Grey (I Mørket er Alle Ulver Grå (1983), translated by David McDuff, 1985)

One always forgets a wolf along the way”

greySometimes there’s an itch, and obviously whilst I have books, I really ought to be reading about Bergen’s most famous private eye. Even if he has a wandering eye. And digging around t’Interwebs, I found all but one of the translated titles on a single non-BigSouthAmericanRiver. Mind you, I went back there for Consorts of Death.

And when the pile arrived, I discovered two things. Continue reading →

It’s a Murder of Crows, or, Corvid Reading

Agnes Ravatn, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribunalet, 2013, translated by Rosie Hedger, 2016)

RavatnIt’s a little unfair, but this kind of (usually) female gothic is haunted – Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca springs to mind, as does (to a lesser extent) Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, as well as Hitchcock’s Rebecca and The Birds. Oh, and Bluebeard.

This wasn’t the first book I’d bought in a real shop since the lockdown, but it was my first expotition out of the postcodes and a visit to the Oxford Street Bookshop. It leapt out at me from the crime and thriller section, and it was only after I left the shop that it was a Book at Bedtime serial, which I’d only caught sections of. And for some reason had thought of Frankenstein.

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