Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen #BookReview

About this book…

September 1977. Mette Misvær, a three-year-old girl disappears without trace from the sandpit outside her home. Her tiny, close middle-class community in the tranquil suburb of Nordas is devastated, but their enquiries and the police produce nothing. Curtains twitch, suspicions are raised, but Mette is never found. Almost 25 years later, as the expiry date for the statute of limitations draws near, Mette’s mother approaches PI Varg Veum, in a last, desperate attempt to find out what happened to her daughter. As Veum starts to dig, he uncovers an intricate web of secrets, lies and shocking events that have been methodically concealed. When another brutal incident takes place, a pattern begins to emerge … Chilling, shocking and full of extraordinary twists and turns, Where Roses Never Die reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.

My review…

If you had asked me this time last year if I was a fan of Scandinavian crime fiction or Nordic noir then I would have responded with a “hell no!” even though I really liked tv shows such as The Killing and Wallender. But 2016 has opened my eyes to great examples of this genre that I would have kicked myself for missing out on otherwise, one of them being Where Roses Never Die. I am rather late to the party for this one though as 2017 will mark 40 years since this series began! Thankfully I don’t have too long to wait for the next instalment which is due to be published by Orenda Books next year.

Those expecting a fast paced and thrilling rollercoaster read will be sorely disappointed though. This book unravels its secrets steadily and carefully-it’s like unwrapping a beautiful box of chocolates where each one is individually packaged and you have no idea what it is until it slowly melts in your mouth. The plot involving the disappearance of a 3 year old little girl is handled calmly and delicately by the private investigator Varg Veum as he methodically works through a cold case that is about to reach its statute of limitations after 25 years. The co-op habitat that Mette disappeared from, and where her mother still lives, seems to hold the key and Varg is prepared to delve deeper than the previous police investigation to find out what happened back in 1977. I took a little while to work out who was who in the co-op but once I did I was absolutely enthralled by their lives both in the past and present and watched intently as all the threads started to knit together.

I loved Varg and found myself not only cheering him on in his investigation but also in his private life. Although I have joined the series very late I didn’t feel that I was missing out on too much backwards story as all I needed to know was there and I picked up clues to the past quickly and easily. I am now desperate to discover more about this man and his life and will eagerly await the next book in this series. The combination of the wonderfully translated prose and the darkly atmospheric setting were a perfect fit for this richly plotted novel and I absolutely loved it.

Where Roses Never Die (Varg Veum) was published by Orenda Books on March 15th 2016 and is available to purchase from Amazon UK here.

Meet the author…

Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), lives in Bergen with his wife.