*Blog Tour: Review* Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen (translated by Don Bartlett)

415DfcTexyL“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.”

I am delighted to be today’s stop on the Where Roses Never Die blog tour.  As you may be aware, I have a habit at the moment of coming to a series several books in.  I tend to start with book two or (heaven forbid!) book six.  I think this book and it’s beleaguered lead, PI Varg Veum, takes the biscuit though.  Gunnar Staalesen has been writing about Veum since 1977!  Granted, only a handful of his novels have been translated from their original Norwegian to English, but I intend to hunt down every single one of them!

It’s 1977 and a young girl is snatched whilst playing in the sand pit outside her home.  She and her family live in a remote but secure co-op, designed by one of the residents and surrounded by handpicked neighbours.  They all trust each other…to some extent.  After a thorough police investigation the family is none the wiser and Mette is not found.  As the statute of limitations approaches (25 years later), Maja, Mette’s mother contacts Veum hoping he will discover the truth, before time runs out.  All Veum discovers though is a community in pieces harbouring the most shocking of secrets…

Brilliant!  I have a real soft spot for translated books but have always tended to avoid Scandinavian authors and Nordic Noir (I can’t say why that is but it may be something to do with reading a novelisation of ‘The Killing’, which was written by a Brit!).  That won’t be the case in future!

I really warmed to PI Varg Veum despite his very obvious flaws and addictions.  He is quite a character and I feel a little jealous of Norwegian readers who have grown up reading his stories.  (There is a life sized statue of Veum in Bergen, that’s how you treat your most loved fictional characters!)

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Gunnar Staalesen and the statue of Varg Veum

One thing I will say, this is not a ‘fast paced, thrill-a-second’ book.  More of a slow build to a blistering conclusion (which is superb).  There are unexpected twists throughout the story which are cleverly placed to make sure you keep turning the pages.  It’s a very enjoyable read about a group of people who aren’t necessarily what they seem.

Would I recommend this book?  Definitely.  Thanks to Gunnar Staalesen’s Varg Veum, Nordic Noir has a new fan.  My Norwegian is pretty rusty (haha, read: non existent!) so I’m off to find Gunnar’s other translated-to-English Veum books so I can fall in love with him just a little bit more.

Five out of five stars.

Thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda books for my copy of Where Roses Never Die in exchange for an honest review.

Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen (translated by Don Bartlett) is published in the UK by Orenda Books on 30th June 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones |

Smith & Sons (11)

 

unspecifiedGunnar 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 Espen Seim. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), lives in Bergen with his wife. The next instalment in the Varg Veum series – No One Is So Safe in Danger – will be published by Orenda Books in 2017.

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#Blogival: Soho Honey by A W Rock (Review)

41NSZsaON9L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_“This contemporary crime story takes place over three weeks in November and unfolds against the multi-cultural backdrop of Soho, London.

Branen had to leave the UK six years before to escape his complex clandestine history and the consequences of a crime that achieved worldwide notoriety. When his daughter is brutally murdered in Soho he believes that he could be the reason. He returns to his old hunting grounds to find the killer. His search brings him into conflict with the British Secret Service and Soho’s underworld. He is forced to flee Soho again after a tragic meeting with his ex-wife. His past has caught up with him and the hunter becomes the hunted. Now forty years old Branen wants to stop running and to remove forever the continuing threat to his life. In an effort to get rid of his pursuers he is faced with the prospect that his only chance of survival could lead to his death.”

I am thrilled to be taking part in the Clink Street 2016 #Blogival today with my review of the gripping Soho Honey by A W Rock.  I had decided to read this book before I had a chance to look at the blurb.  That was all thanks to that stunning cover, absolutely gorgeous!  If that doesn’t get your attention, nothing will!

Ex-secret service operative Branen is called back to action following the horrific death of his only daughter, Carrie.  He is tasked with finding her killer which means returning to the stomping ground of his youth, notorious Soho in the West End of London.  During his investigation he puts several high powered noses out of joint.  Not that they needed much encouragement.  Branen is a wanted man, on the hunt for a killer.  The bodies pile up as he gets closer to the truth, can Branen avoid being one of those bodies…

I enjoyed this book, it’s a fast paced thriller with lots of action, but I was quite confused by the end of part one.  There is a lot of information (locations, jobs, hierarchies, names etc.) which I felt came flying at me.  I wanted the story to slow a little to give me time to absorb what I was reading.  It all felt a little too much, too quickly and as a result it took me a little while to enjoy A W Rock’s style of writing.

Once I had gotten used to the author’s style, I found myself completely submerged in the story.  A W Rock paints a very vivid picture of Soho and it’s darker side.  The characters are well written and the action flows from start to finish.  It’s a dark, gritty tale about the criminals of Soho’s underbelly and I’m looking forward to reading book two in the series, particularly as book one left us on such a cliffhanger!

Three and a half out of five stars.

Thanks to Rachel at Authoright for my copy of Soho Honey in exchange for an honest review.

Soho Honey by A W Rock was published in the UK on 5th May by Clink Street Publishing and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones |

Smith & Sons (11)

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Photograph by Jonathan Knowles

Based in London A.W. Rock has been a regular in Soho working in various sectors of the entertainment industry.

Graduated Hornsey College of Art with a BA degree.

Worked in design and graphics, co-owner of Mighty Mouse Studio designing for many companies and theatres including the Royal Court Theatre and The Roundhouse.

He then became a professional photographer based in England and working all over the world, for most of the major advertising agencies in stills and film. These include J. Walter Thompson, Saatchi & Saatchi, Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam, McCanns, Bogle Bartle & Hegarty and many others.

A.W. Rock has directed a wide range of music promo films and over two hundred TV commercials worldwide. Working in a variety of locations he has made commercials for General Motors in New Zealand, American Express in New York and Dyson vacuum cleaners in England. A commercial he made for The Royal Tournament was nominated for a prize at the Cannes Film Festival. He also directed several thirty minute commercially financed dramas.

He made his first theatrical drama – Deux ex Machina – a short film which won 2nd prize in a national competition sponsored by Channel One TV – Prize Shorts. It was also chosen by the British Film Institute, from over 300 shorts, as one of eight international films to tour the country in the Brief Encounters Festival. It later was shown by the BFI on a worldwide tour.

This film received critical acclaim and was judged

” Very accomplished and remains in the memory ” by Derek Malcolm the Guardian film critic.

This film has appeared in several other international film festivals.

Blogival Calendar

 

*Blog Tour: Review* Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus

51E1j1admpL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_“Jerry has a traumatic past that leaves him subject to psychotic hallucinations and depressive episodes. When he stands accused of stealing a priceless Van Gogh painting, he goes underground, where he develops an unwilling relationship with a woman who believes that the voices she hears are from God. Involuntarily entangled in the illicit world of sex-trafficking amongst the Hollywood elite, and on a mission to find redemption for a haunting series of events from the past, Jerry is thrust into a genuinely shocking and outrageously funny quest to uncover the truth and atone for historical sins.

A complex, page-turning psychological thriller, riddled with twists and turns, Epiphany Jones is also a superb dark comedy with a powerful emotional core. You’ll laugh when you know you shouldn’t, be moved when you least expect it and, most importantly, never look at Hollywood, celebrity or sex in the same way again. This is an extraordinary debut from a fresh, exceptional new talent.”

Welcome to my stop on the Epiphany Jones blog tour.  This book is something special and I am thrilled to be a part of the tour, along with some other fabulous bloggers.  Make sure you check out all of the other stops along the way.

Oh. My. Gosh!  I have never read a book quite like Epiphany Jones before.  From the moment I read the blurb I HAD to read this book.  And look at that cover!! Absolutely stunning. This is a brand new reading experience so I suggest you do everything you can to get hold of a copy.  Did I mention that I have NEVER read a book like this one before…??

Jerry suffers from figments, imaginary people who pop into and out of his life at the most inopportune moments.  This is due to his traumatic past; his young sister died of leukaemia and his father died in a horrific car accident, Jerry was also in the car at the time.  Oh, and he’s addicted to porn.  He can keep the figments at bay though by taking his meds, but there’s this one figment who keeps appearing.  She even appears in his dreams!

Whilst Jerry is at lunch one day a priceless painting goes missing from the museum where he works.  He is accused of the theft but only digs himself in deeper by lying when confronted.  Upon his return home he is aghast to find the stolen painting in his apartment.  Confused and wanting to distance himself from the booty he leaves his apartment only to bump into his figment, literally.  But that can’t happen.  Figments are created by his mind and they are not real.  Except this one is and she’s not really a figment.  She’s Epiphany Jones…

This book contains some pretty dark, gutsy themes and you do need a strong stomach for parts of it.  Saying that I am hugely impressed with the way Michael Grothaus has handled these themes within the story.  None of the sexual content felt gratuitous and it was very much necessary for the story.  Even the moments when Jerry is alone (I shall say no more and let your mind fill in the blanks)…

The story flows smoothly and at an enjoyable pace.  My interest was kept from the very first word to the very last.  I couldn’t predict where the story was going and I was always surprised by the twists and turns (full marks from me for that!).  The humour I adored. The blurb is correct, you do find yourself laughing at things which you know you shouldn’t.

I didn’t like Jerry, I did like Jerry and then I didn’t like Jerry again.  Now I have reached the conclusion of the book I definitely DO like Jerry.  The rest of the characters I’m not so sure about.  That is, except Epiphany.  Epiphany is an amazing character, quite possibly my favourite fictional character…ever!

I have to congratulate Michael Grothaus on his use of the word ‘mosey’.  It’s not a word I see often in books but it’s one of my favourites.  Thank you for using it with such aplomb Mr Grothaus.

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would.  I would, however, add a cautionary note about it not being for the faint hearted. There is a lot of bad language, copious amounts of sexual content (it’s about sex-trafficking and Jerry is addicted to porn, after all) and a fair amount of graphic violence that even made my tummy flip and that’s saying something as I love blood, guts and gore in my books!

Five stars out of five.

Thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my copy of Epiphany Jones in exchange for an honest review.

Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 16th May 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones |

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Novelist and journalist Michael Grothaus was born in Saint Louis, Missouri in 1977. He spent his twenties in Chicago where he earned his degree in filmmaking from Columbia and got his start in journalism writing for Screen. After working for institutions including The Art Institute of Chicago, Twentieth Century Fox, and Apple he moved to the United Kingdom where he earned his postgraduate degree and began writing for The Guardian, Fast Company, VICE, and others. His debut novel is EPIPHANY JONES, a story about sex trafficking among the Hollywood elite, based on his experiences at the Cannes Film Festival. It will be published by Orenda in May 2016. Michael is represented worldwide by The Hanbury Agency in London, where he lives when not traveling. His writing is read by millions of people each month.

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