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Gunnar Staalesen

Author of Yours until Death

69+ Works 2,346 Members 61 Reviews 4 Favorited

About the Author

Image credit: Photo: Nina Aldin Thune


Works by Gunnar Staalesen

Yours until Death (1979) 174 copies
The Writing on the Wall (1995) 146 copies
1900, morgenrød (1997) 124 copies
Kvinnen i kjøleskapet (1980) 116 copies
Le Loup dans la bergerie (1977) 110 copies
Bitter Flowers (1991) 100 copies
1999 : aftensang (2000) 99 copies
Where Roses Never Die (1716) 96 copies
1950 : high noon (1998) 94 copies
Fallen Angels (1989) 91 copies
Tornerose sov i hundre år (1980) 90 copies
Svarte får (1988) 64 copies
Wolves in the Dark (2014) 63 copies
Begravde hunder biter ikke (1993) 61 copies
The Dead Have It Easy (1996) 23 copies
Vikingskattens hemmelighet (1990) 18 copies
Mannen som hatet julenisser (1976) 12 copies
2020 : post festum (2021) 12 copies
Rygg i rand, to i spann (1975) 12 copies
Vikingskattens voktere (1994) 9 copies
"Ulv! Ulv!" (1996) 8 copies
Staalesens beste : krim (2005) 6 copies
Dumbo og Maskefjes (1988) 5 copies
Varg Veum collection (2019) 5 copies
Den femte passasjeren (1978) 5 copies
Dødelig alvor (2012) 4 copies
Le roman de Bergen (2007) 4 copies
Amalie Skrams verden (1996) 3 copies
Coeurs Glaces (2015) 3 copies
Varg Veum. De dødes dal (2004) 3 copies
Varg Veum 1 copy
Når du minst aner (1998) 1 copy
Vintermassakren (1994) 1 copy
Piège à loup (Polar) (2019) 1 copy

Associated Works

Copenhagen Noir (2009) — Contributor — 44 copies
Vinternatt : norske kriminalfortellinger (1990) — Contributor — 11 copies
Påskekrim : 17 kriminalnoveller (2009) — Contributor — 7 copies
En Kriminelt god jul : femten svarte julefortellinger (2006) — Contributor — 6 copies
Påskekrim 2011 : 18 kriminalnoveller (2011) — Contributor — 5 copies
Den kriminelle novelle (1999) — Author, some editions — 5 copies
13 norske kriminalnoveller (1979) — Contributor — 4 copies
Påskekrim 2012 : 17 kriminalnoveller (2012) — Contributor — 3 copies
Påskekrim 2010 : 17 kriminalnoveller (2010) — Contributor — 3 copies
Partisaner i sør (2000) — Foreword — 2 copies
Påskekrim 2014 : 18 kriminalnoveller (2014) — Contributor — 2 copies
Påskekrim 2015 (2015) — Contributor — 2 copies
Påskekrim 2017 (2017) — Contributor — 2 copies
Hodejegeren og andre krimfortellinger — Contributor — 1 copy


Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Staalesen, Gunnar
Bergen, Norja
Places of residence
Bergen, Norway



This is the next book in the Varg Veum series following We Shall Inherit the Wind. In my review of that book, I predicted that difficulties would lie ahead for the protagonist. I was not wrong.

Three years after the loss Varg experiences in We Shall Inherit the Wind, he has become an alcoholic. As he conducts his next investigation, he struggles with the siren call of aquavit. His case is the disappearance of 3-year-old Mette Misvær twenty-five years earlier, in 1977. Her mother Maja wants Varg to find out what happened to her daughter who went missing from the sandpit outside her home, one of five houses in a small housing co-op.

Varg is very methodical. He spends his time interviewing people, first focusing on the other four families living in the co-op. A lot of characters are introduced in a short span of time so it is difficult sometimes to remember who is who and the connections among characters. Of course Varg always manages to extract information that allows him to move forward. Mette disappeared without a trace, and the police never solved the case, but Varg does of course.

The incompetent police trope is annoying, especially because Varg solves more than one case. A recent jewelry heist has more than one connection to the people who were Maja and Mette’s neighbours. All these connections stretch credibility.

I can understand a mother wanting answers to what happened to a missing child, but considering the many secrets Maja has, it’s surprising that she hired a private investigator. Varg uncovers many secrets and lies, many of which involve Maja.

I found parts of the book to be predictable. From the beginning, I guessed Maja’s secret which added to her guilt. And when a certain character was introduced, I immediately heard alarm bells and guessed much of the ending. I read to the end to discover the other details which are not obvious.

I think I’ll return to this series at a later date; in the meantime, I’ll begin listening to a Canadian series I’ve been meaning to read.

Note: Please check out my reader's blog (https://schatjesshelves.blogspot.com/) and follow me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/DCYakabuski).
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Schatje | 5 other reviews | Dec 7, 2023 |
When I asked for suggestions for a new detective series to listen to during walks, a friend recommended the Varg Veum series by Gunnar Staalesen, who is often described as the father of Nordic noir. I began with We Shall Inherit the Wind though I understand it is not the first of the series. As so often happens, not all the books have been translated and translations do not always begin at the beginning. Nonetheless, this book turned out to be a good place to start since it marks a major change in Varg’s life.

Varg, whose name means wolf, is an ex-social worker who has become a private investigator working in Bergen, Norway. Ranveig Mæland, a friend of Varg’s fiancée Karin, asks Varg to investigate the disappearance of her husband Mons. Mons owns land on a remote island which is being considered for a controversial wind farm. Just as all interested parties and opponents to the plan are to gather on the island, Mons has gone missing. As Varg searches for Mons and later checks into a land sale, he uncovers business and family secrets.

The book touches not only on disappearances, one in the past and one in the present, and dubious business dealings but also on environmental terrorism and religious fanaticism.

Varg is a likeable character though he is, as he readily admits, not perfect. He will not stop until all his questions are answered and though this may be admirable, it is also a flaw. This determination has him making an error for which he pays a tragically high price. Yet afterwards, even when the case is finished, he continues investigating on his own because he wants to confirm his suspicions about an unsolved case from the past.

Another trait that stands out is his stoicism. He rarely displays his feelings, though his thoughts reveal that he is capable of deep emotions. The ending suggests that difficulties may lie ahead for Varg because he doesn’t know how to deal with his feelings.

Varg is 65 years old; as befits his age, he is more old-fashioned in his approach. He relies on deductive reasoning; he is not the gun-toting tough guy who manhandles suspects.

My one problem with the book is the names of the characters, and there are lots of them. Because I was listening, not reading, I often became confused with the many similar-sounding names who, to me, are foreign.

I appreciate that though there are some unexpected twists, the clues are there. Things that didn’t feel right prove to have not felt right for a legitimate reason. All the reader has to do is pay close attention and, like Varg, use his/her deductive thinking skills.

I quite enjoyed my introduction to this series, so much so that I’ve already downloaded the next book. I look forward to spending my morning walks in the company of Varg Veum.

Note: Please check out my reader's blog (https://schatjesshelves.blogspot.com/) and follow me on Twitter (@DCYakabuski).
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Schatje | 5 other reviews | Nov 20, 2023 |
Grabbed this from the library display on a whim. It was enjoyable, but I'm coming in rather late to the character's development. I feel like I learned a lot of backstory presumably revealed/discovered over the last 19 books, and happened to start with one that explores a new facet that seems pretty important. I would have preferred to start much earlier in the series but don't know that I want to go back and do it now.
Kiramke | 5 other reviews | Jun 27, 2023 |
Yours Until Death is the first of the Varg Veum books translated into English although, oddly, not the first in the series. Based in Bergen in Norway, Varg is a dissolute small-time private investigator, and was formerly a Child Welfare officer.

The book opens with a young child walking into Varg's office seeking help recovering his bike from some vicious bullies. Varg agrees to help, and gradually starts to get involved with the boy and his recently-separated mother. After the mother asks Varg to talk to her ex-husband about child support, he sees him go into her flat where he is soon found dead, and she is found holding the murder weapon.

Despite appearances, Veum refuses to believe that she can have done this and offers to help the defense investigation.

The book is quite good without being highly original or surprising. Veum has a nice line in wisecracks but the character is not as memorable as Martin Beck or Kurt Wallander, for example. Staalesen gives him some depth by harking back to Veum's own unhappy childhood, but he doesn't do much with that, at least not yet. The book's real strength is Staalesen's prosaic descriptions of Bergen and its surrounds. One passage where he describes the sudden onset of Spring is excellent, as is the brooding presence he gives the mountain that glowers over this ancient city.
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gjky | 5 other reviews | Apr 9, 2023 |



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