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  • Location: Bergen, Alesund, Nørvøya, Vigra

Where Roses Never Die (Varg Veum 18)

Why a Booktrail?

1977, 2000s:  A tapestry of lies is about to unravel….

  • ISBN: 978-1910633090
  • Genre: Crime

What you need to know before your trail

A young girl is snatched whilst playing in the sand pit outside her home. She lived there with her family, a safe place or so they thought. It’s a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone else. Where you think you know everyone else.

Despite a long and detailed police investigation no trace of Mette is ever found so as a last ditch attempt to at least find answers if not the girl herself, Maja, Mette’s mum,  contacts Veum. The statute of limitations is approaching and she just wants to know what happened to her little girl.

25 years is a long time for a girl to be missing. It’s also a long time for a community to harbour the most shocking of secrets.

Travel Guide

Norway

The story starts in Bryggen, with a robbery in a jewellery store. This is the nice, old part of town, but today someone is killed, robbers escape by boat. An isolated incident but one which will linked to one of Veum’s most complexing cases.

This is Veum, a rather broken man. He drinks and is depressed. A shadow of the man he used to be. Norway’s desolate landscape, in the middle of winter. reflects the sense of despair, isolation and grief. “There are days in your life when you  are barely present, and today was one of those” he explains. He has dreams, nightmares really, which drag him down. The Norwegian sea even holds on to him during his nightmares – with its enormous octopuses and murderous monkfish. Pessimism reigns supreme – no one believes answers will be found. ( A statue of the man himself can be found loitering in the door of the hotel)

This is also the landscape of fear and regret. A lack of resolution and ‘knowing’ has left so many people, especially the mother unable to truly function. A closed knit community with only a few houses, where children wandered in and out of each other’s houses.

Gunnar Staalesen guides us around the idyllic life of a small Norwegian community and then takes, not a hammer to the illusion, but a chisel which taps away gradually at that image, showing the chinks, chips and the woodworm of what life behind closed doors, between such a close, small community can be like.

The image of perfection, of a perfectly formed rural community, a modern day crime in the old part of town….but what seems perfect and placid on the surface, reveal the many unseen undercurrents of what really lies beneath.

A bit like that bay in Vågen

Streetview Maps

A) Bergen - Old town and harbour
E) Bergen - Varg Veum statue

Booktrailer Review

Susan:  @thebooktrailer

Brilliant! I love Varg Veum and think this he really is one of my favourite Nordic detectives. He has that grit about him and having met the lovely author himself now, I tend to visualise him in the lead role and that adds a real edge to my reading!

Now I am in no way saying he’s anything like the character in those ways – it’s his quiet demeanour and unassuming nature which I imagine they share. Veum is a man who likes to get things done and he watches and waits, a bit like a Norwegian Columbo before making the kill.

The two timelines in this book I thought worked really well. That first chapter certainly made me sit up and take notice. Then the mystery of the young girl. Where was the linkI asked myself. What was going on? How would Veum get this sorted? You can see how he hooks you in. A bit like one of those fish in the Vågen bay.

The highlight however for me was the way such a small community who appear so perfect from the outside, could reveal so much darkness. Oh the secrets and the lies, the brooding looks, the stares and curtain twitching…that just gets me hooked right there. The way Veum never gives up,but picks, prods, cajoles, and most effectively sets the trap then waits…
By the time the whole sorry affair unravels, I was applauding in my head. It was only after I’d finished the book and it kept coming back into my head, unravelling again, that I could see even more of the genius of Veum’s work.
Oh I still love that wolf print on the books. Veum makes his mark!

Booktrail Boarding Pass Information: Where Roses Never Die (Varg Veum 18)

Author/Guide: Gunnar Staalesen   Destination: Bergen   Departure Time: 1970s, 2000s

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