#BlogTour | #BookReview: Wolves in the Dark by Gunnar Staalesen | @OrendaBooks #VargVeum

wolves in the dark cover“PI Varg Veum fights for his reputation, his freedom and his life, when child pornography is found on his computer and he is arrested and jailed. Worse still, his memory is a blank…

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 paedophile 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.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Wolves in the Dark blog tour alongside the lovely Caroline over at Bits About Books.  Wolves in the Dark is the latest in this thrilling series which author, Gunnar Staalesen started writing 40 years ago this year.  I read and reviewed Wolves in the Dark‘s predecessor, Where Roses Never Die a year ago (almost to the day) and I absolutely loved it.  It was an easy five-star read for me and I am still recommending it to readers a year later.  If you missed that review click here for a recap.  So imagine how excited I was to hear Orenda Books was about to publish the latest instalment of the Varg Veum series.

And I was not disappointed.  For those new to this series Varg Veum is a fairly recently bereaved Private Investigator who has fallen prey to the temptations of alcohol and lust. He certainly hasn’t been living a clean life of late but is determined to get a hold of himself and get back on track.  Veum is shocked to discover the police knocking on his door in the early hours and even more aghast when he is arrested for sending and receiving child pornography.  All the evidence points to Varg having some incredibly dark and sickening past times but he knows he’s innocent.  Now all he had to do is prove that before he is charged with one of the most heinous crimes of all…

Varg Veum has such appeal for me.  I do like my main protagonists a little battered and bruised around the edges so he ticks the boxes.  I couldn’t, at the start of the novel, see how Veum was going to get himself out of the fix he was in.  After all, how can he prove he’s innocent when all of the evidence says otherwise and he’s locked in a cell!  I thought the author did an excellent job of working around this problem.  The plot flowed well and didn’t feel at all forced.  I enjoyed how many suspects Veum came up with, those looking for the ultimate revenge on our beleagured PI.  As the list grew I became even more intrigued by Veum than I was previously.  He’s certainly not one to tread lightly when on the hunt for a suspect!

I did, however feel a little confused at times as there are so many different threads within the investigation, and quite a few Norwegian names (as you would expect!).  So I ended up re-reading several sections to make sure I knew the characters and how they connected to one another.  Saying that, Staalesen is a master at what he does and, after reading Wolves in the Dark it reminded me exactly how much I want to read all of the other Veum novels (those which have been translated to English, of course!  My Norwegian is still….let’s say rusty, lol).

This is a very dark novel and not one for the faint-hearted.  If you’ve read the blurb you will know that there is mention of child abuse throughout the story but the author manages to steer clear of anything too graphic, most of the time.  There is one scene which I found upsetting, but I can’t see how else this would be dealt with as it’s key to the plot.  The scene in question is brief and referred to only a couple of times in passing throughout the remainder of book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would but it’s a hard read in places due to the subject matter.  Don’t let that put you off though as Veum is an addictive character and Staalesen is a master of the thriller.  And aren’t books supposed to make us all feel a little uncomfortable at times?  I, for one, am looking forward to the next instalment and meeting up with Veum once again.  And this is a perfect opportunity to wish a very happy 40th anniversary to Gunnar Staalesen and Varg Veum, long may this excellent series continue.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Wolves in the Dark.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Wolves in the Dark by Gunnar Staalesen (translated by Don Bartlett) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th June 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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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. When Prince Charles visited Bergen, Staalesen was appointed his official tour guide. There is a life-sized statue of Varg Veum in the centre of Bergen, and a host of Varg Veum memorabilia for sale. We Shall Inherit the Wind and Where Roses Never Die were both international bestsellers.

Author Links: | Orenda Books | Website |

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#BlogTour | #BookReview: Cursed by Thomas Enger (@EngerThomas) @OrendaBooks

9781910633649.jpg“What secret would you kill to protect? When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, where she has been grieving for her recently dead father, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests. Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. With the loss of his son to deal with, as well as threats to his own life and to that of his ex-wife, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history.

Today I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Cursed blog tour.  Cursed is written by Thomas Enger and is the fourth book in the Henning Juul series (but the first one I have read which should come as no surprise to regular visitors!).  I do love nordic noir and have previously indulged in the literary delights of Gunnar Staalesen, Agnes Ravatn and other talented Scandinavian authors.  So with this in mind, I was excited to read Cursed.

I wasn’t disappointed.  Thomas Enger has created a mesmerising tale which draws you in from the opening pages and keeps you glued to the story throughout; all the way to the thrilling conclusion. And what a way to end a novel!  I’m already champing at the bit for book five in the series.

My heart really went out to Henning Juul who I immediately liked.  Henning isn’t your usual crime thriller hero as he’s an investigative crime journalist and not a harried detective.  It was a refreshing change for me to be reading a novel which wasn’t set in the midst of a major police investigation.  The relationship between Henning and his ex-wife, Nora Klemetsen broke my heart at times.  And the tragedy suffered by the estranged couple I found a hard read.  Henning’s all-consuming desire to discover who was responsible for his young son’s death had me riveted and cheering him on from the comfort of my sofa.  Particularly with the introduction of Nora’s new partner, Iver and their earth shattering news.

There are many different threads to the story and it’s hard at times to see how they will all come together.  But come together they do in an explosive finale.  The pictures painted by the author are so clear that you can’t but help feel you’re there, living the action with them.

I loved the different characters of the Hellberg family.  Each one individual and each with their own secrets.  But how far are they prepared to go to keep those secrets?  Well, you’ll have to read Cursed for yourself and find out!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  If you’re anything like me and love to read books where at the centre of the crime you find a wealthy, secretive and controlling family then you will love Cursed.  Fantastic, believable characters…some you will love, some you will loathe.  Beautifully atmospheric, completely gripping and full of intrigue. Orenda Books, you have another gem of a novel on your shelf and I can’t wait for book five.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Cursed.  My thanks to Orenda Books for providing me with a copy.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Cursed by Thomas Enger (translated by Kari Dickson) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th February 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook editions | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2009, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called THE EVIL LEGACY, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

Author Links: Website | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn trs. @rosie_hedger @OrendaBooks

the-bird-tribunal-a_w-v4“Two people in exile. Two secrets. As the past tightens its grip, there may be no escape… TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in a remote house on an isolated fjord. But her new job as housekeeper and gardener is not all that it seems, and her silent, surly employer, 44-year-old Sigurd Bagge, is not the old man she expected. As they await the return of his wife from her travels, their silent, uneasy encounters develop into a chilling, obsessive relationship, and it becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough…

Haunting, consuming and powerful, The Bird Tribunal is a taut, exquisitely written psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo that will leave you breathless.”

I am thrilled to be today’s stop on the The Bird Tribunal blog tour.  The Bird Tribunal is written by Agnes Ravatn,  translated from it’s original Norwegian by Rosie Hedger and is published by the inimitable Orenda Books.  I have to say, I have never read a book quite like this before.  Strangely unsettling but a completely riveting read!

Allis Hagtorn is running away.  Something happened which has made her ‘up sticks’ and leave everything she knows behind, including her husband and her influential job.  The only way forward for Allis is to withdraw from everyday life as much as she can, submitting herself to voluntary exile.  Sigurd Bagge offers her a new job as his housekeeper and gardener, whilst his wife is away.  The job suits Allis down to the ground as Bagge’s home is remote and Bagge himself is secretive and uncommunicative.  But what secrets is Allis hiding?  And is she the only one…?

I found this a gripping read.  I had a strong feeling of impending doom from early on which stayed with me and grew stronger as I moved through the book.  It’s certainly an unsettling read and I found it oddly uncomfortable in places (not the subject matter so much as the feeling that I was intruding on the characters most private moments). That certainly didn’t put me off though!  It’s a fairly quick read and so easy to devour in the space of a few hours.  I thoroughly enjoyed it! 

Allis’ neediness towards Bagge added to that uncomfortable feeling at times.  There were several points when I wanted her to walk away from the house and never look back.  I was torn in two; wanting her to leave but knowing there was something big on the way.  That delicious build up of friction between the two characters was so utterly compelling!  Not forgetting of course, that fabulous, unexpected ending.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, especially if you’re looking for a character driven, somewhat intoxicating, slow-build of a read to a surprising, yet stunning conclusion.   Packed full of secrets and shed loads of atmosphere.  It’s a great read!

Four and a half stars out of five.

Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of The Bird Tribunal in exchange for an honest review.

The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn trs. Rosie Hedger was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 30th September 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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agnes-ravatn-ashxAgnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is an author and columnist. She made her literary début with the novel Week 53 (Veke 53) in 2007. Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections:Standing still (Stillstand), 2011, Popular reading (Folkelesnad), 2011, and Operation self-discipline (Operasjon sjøldisiplin), 2014. In these works Ravatn shows her unique, witty voice and sharp eye for human fallibility. Her second novel, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribuanlet), 2013, is a strange and captivating story about shame, guilt and atonement. Ravatn received The cultural radio P2’s listener’s prize for this novel, a popular and important prize in Norway, in addition to The Youth’s Critic’s Prize. The Bird Tribunalwas also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015. It is published by Orenda Books in September 2016.

405704_10100129059101931_425159055_n-300x222Rosie Hedger was born in Scotland and completed her MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Edinburgh. She has lived and worked in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and now lives in York where she works as a freelance translator. Rosie was a candidate in the British Centre for Literary Translation’s mentoring scheme for Norwegian in 2012, mentored by Don Bartlett.