Blog Tour Book Review: Wolves In The Dark by Gunnar Staalesen

Reeling from the death of his great love, Karin, Varg Veum’s life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts. 

When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he’s accused of being part of a pedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material . . . and who is seeking the ultimate revenge. 

When a chance to escape presents itself, Varg finds himself on the run in his hometown of Bergen. With the clock ticking and the police on his tail, Varg takes on his hardest—and most personal—case yet. Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Wolves in the Dark reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers. 

Published 15th June 2017 by Orenda (UK) 

When it comes to Scandi Crime I’m a true novice, however its popularity has exploded in recent years and I was keen to give it a try. When Orenda books offered me the chance to be part of the blog tour for Wolves In The Dark, I jumped at the opportunity.

Wolves In The Dark is Norweigen author, Gunnar Staalesen’s 21st (yes – 21st!) book in his Varg Veum series. With such a substantial back catalogue to this series, I was concerned about the impact it would have on my joining in after so many previous books. Having now read it, I do think that while there is clearly a lot of back story to Veum’s character and history I’d missed out on, overall it did work without any prior knowledge, although I felt if I’d known what had led Veum to be the person he was today, I may have connected more. That said, Staalesen does offer opportunity to the reader to pick up hints and ideas about his past, for which I really appreciated as it gave a sense of a truly developed and intriguing character.

This book begins when private investigator Varg Veum is arrested after traces of child pornography are found on his computer and follows his quest to exonerate himself. I’m not going to lie, there’s some difficult reading here as a dark and repugnant topic is explored and I think Staalesen handled it well. Veum is in a bad place when this happens, having being recently bereaved and finding solace in a bottle. This is where I probably felt knowing more about the character would’ve helped, however I still got the feeling of a broken man, fighting to save himself in a gritty, dark and complex situation.
The narrative in this book speeds along very well, and even the unfamiliar names of people and places, which required a little rereading to take in, didn’t hamper the pace of this snappy book. The short chapters are the exact kind that have you saying “just one more” and before you know it you’ve covered 100 pages. I had to know how this ended, I really wanted to Veum to prove his innocence (and credit to the author for making me feel like this considering my lack of previous knowledge about him) and I wanted justice to be done. It kind of is, but then there’s a cliffhanger ending, leaving the reader ready and waiting for the next book in the series.

I wasn’t at all sure how I was going to get on with this book when I started, but page by page it grew on me. While I probably won’t be seeking out the previous twenty books in the series, I’d definitely read on from now and will look out for the next installment.

(Thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda for sending me a copy for review.)

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