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Yours Until Death by Gunnar Staalesen

Yours Until Death (1979)

by Gunnar Staalesen

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This is the second of Gunnar Staalesen's Varg Veum novels, and dates back to 1979. It shows its age, but it's also a fairly compelling read. First the negative. The writing reminds me a lot of Raymond Chandler and other Americans of the noirish private eye school. At times the urban gloom and the hero's downbeat cynicism reads almost like parody. That could be a trick of translation, but it seems more like an influence not yet fully digested, and it makes 1979 feel even further back than it was. On the positive side, however, the novel is a good read, and the story draws one in. The further on you get, the more it emerges that things are not what they seem, and that the character who drives the plot has as many layers as an onion. Having started off with a very late Varg Veum, I am pleased to report that Staalensen's style gets better, while his plots remain interesting. ( )
  annbury | Sep 8, 2015 |
Yours Until Death – Norwegian Noir at its best

Yours Until Death by the Norwegian writer Gunnar Staalesen was originally published in 1979 in his native Norway and in English for the first time in 1993 and now re-released by Arcadia Books and I think they are on a winner. More importantly he comes highly recommended by Jo Nesbø who calls him “A Norwegian Chandler” and having read and enjoyed this crime thriller I cannot disagree this is Norwegian Noir at its best.

Gunnar Staalesen in Yours Until Death introduces us to private detective Varg Veum a divorced man with an old battered mini, an office covered in dust and his favourite drink of aquavit and the city of Bergen in the shadow of the great Lyderhorn mountain.

This may have been written in the late 1970s but could have been written in the last twelve months when all the subject matter in the thriller comes up of single mother families, isolated communities in desperate concrete jungles. Teenage thugs are running wild around the estate, robbing, molesting their way around with no police presence.

When Roar a young boy appears at his office to employ him to get his bike back from the feral teens he enters a part of Bergen that the rest of the world has forgotten. When Roar’s father is murdered there seems to be no end of suspects all except the person you would expect. When the ringleader is also murdered Veum has to act fast before there are more innocent deaths and still find out who the killer is.

Yours Until Death is an excellent novel with all the traditions you would expect from a Private Detective thriller, it is fast paced with murder and revenge. It explores the themes of marriage and the reality of the break-down, what it is like for teenagers to grow up with no hope and that passion can be powerfully destructive.

Having read Yours Until Death I can see why Gunnar Staalesen is one of the bestselling authors of crime fiction in Norway as he commands all that he writes and engages the reader with aplomb. The imagery is dark and disturbing and even if this was written about the late 70s it could have been written recently just showing that nothing changes that much.

Yours Until Death is a stunning novel bringing home the best introduction for the sleuthing of Varg Veum who is just like Marlowe but with ice and snow running through his blood. ( )
  atticusfinch1048 | Jun 27, 2014 |
Bad noir. Loaded with forgettable similes, metaphors, recollections of a kiss. Then there's this sentence: "And I hid my face between her legs so she wouldn't see me crying." Two murders in Bergen, Norway. Gangs of kids. Aquavit. Not much that reveals the Norwegian setting save a description of a ferry in the last few pages, and the names of countless towns...One star was generous. ( )
  maneekuhi | Sep 30, 2010 |
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The single-mother families of an isolated community are being terrorised by a teenage gang. Varg Veum encounters the gang's pathetic but deadly ferocity to help a young client.

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