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The Writing on the Wall by Gunnar Staalesen

The Writing on the Wall (1995)

by Gunnar Staalesen

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Gunnar Staalesen's Varg Veum is a true original. His name can mean "lone wolf", "persona non grata" and other negative labels, and Varg manages to live up to all of them. His background as a sociologist working in child services (before he went postal on a child abuser) tends to attract him to cases involving children, and this is no exception.
Varg is hired by a mother whose teenage daughter Torild has disappeared. As Varg digs deeper, he finds that Torild was embroiled with some very unsavoury characters and finds himself the recipient of some letters threatening him with death. Needless to say, Varg ploughs on and irritates the police, witnesses, parents, suspects and everybody else that he encounters.
The Varg Veum novels are set in Staalesen's home town of Bergen and he excels at describing the city, the surrounding countryside and the bitter weather encountered there. Similar to Rebus' Edinburgh, the reader really feels a sense of place when reading these books.
Apparently these books are highly popular in Norway, and one of the greatest Varg Veum mysteries is why so few of them have been translated into English, and why the publishers chose to not start with the first, and to translate intermittent novels in the series rather than give English readers continuity. ( )
  Jawin | Apr 15, 2017 |
I’ve been wanting to read this series for ages, particularly after seeing the Norwegian television series, thanks to a friend who sent the DVDs to me. This book, unfortunately, was a disappointment, as it was hard for me to get through. I think I’ve reached the age where small font size can make reading just difficult enough to make a difference, and while I hate to blame translators when I can’t tell what the original was like, it seemed a particularly choppy narrative with odd word choices. It wasn’t awful, but wasn’t very engaging. I thought the television episodes were great fun, though, and I’m thrilled to see a new translation (COLD HEARTS) due out, translated by Don Bartlett who always does a good job.
  bfister | Dec 8, 2012 |
I love Varg Veum! A great PI in Bergen, Norway who was a child protection officer and has a degree in sociology. Gritty Scandinavian crime fiction with lots of rain, class difference, and shock at the brutality of man. ( )
  willmurdoch | Nov 5, 2011 |
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Als der Richter H. C. Brandt im alter von sechzig Jahren eines Freitags nachmittags tot in einem der besseren Hotels der Stadt aufgefunden wurde, nur mit einer Garnitur äusserst delikater Damenunterwäsche bekleidet, dauerte es nicht besonders lange, bis es in der Gerüchteküche zu brodeln begann.
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Varg Veum is lead into a dark world of privileged young girls who have been drawn into drugs and prostitution. When the body of a local judge is found in a luxury hotel clad only in women's lingerie, he looks for clues that lead him only deeper into Bergen's criminal underworld.… (more)

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