PI Varg Veum has returned to duty following a stint in rehab, but his new composure and resolution are soon threatened when three complex crimes land on his desk.
A man is found dead in an elite swimming pool. A young woman has gone missing. Most chillingly, Veum is asked to investigate the ‘Camilla Case’: an eight-year-old cold case involving the disappearance of a little girl, who was never found.
As the threads of these three apparently unrelated cases come together, against the backdrop of a series of shocking environmental crimes, Veum faces the most challenging, traumatic investigation of his career.
A stunning, sophisticated, tension-packed thriller – the darkest of hardboiled Nordic Noir – from one of Norway’s most acclaimed crime writers.
Bitter Flowers is published in just a few day on 21st January by Orenda Books.
Fresh from rehab, Norwegian PI Varg Veum faces his most complex investigation yet, when a man is found drowned, a young woman disappears, and the case of a missing child is revived. The classic Nordic Noir series continues…
‘As searing and gripping as they come’ New York Times
‘One of my very favourite Scandinavian authors’ Ian Rankin
‘The Norwegian Chandler’ Jo Nesbø
***Now a major TV series starring Trond Espen Seim***
So many reviewers have commented on the way that Bitter Flowers has absolutely blown them away – and that is exactly right. It’s got touches of so many of my favourite genres: it’s set in Norway, so it’s got many of the chillingly atmospheric details that I love as well as a character like Varg, who is sure to become one of your stand-out investigators if you haven’t met him already. Add all of that together and consider the fact that it also features a cold case – and I was absolutely sold, right from the get-go…
Varg is someone that you won’t easily forget and I quickly became caught up in this new, post-rehab era of his story. He’s a character with strong principles as well as his very visible flaws, and I got completely drawn into his story all the more because of his complexities and challenges. He is a driven and intelligent man who will let nothing stand in the way of trying to establish what is behind the present-day deaths, and the long neglected cold case and I was absolutely gripped by his dogged determination to work through the twists and turns of this interwoven tale and get to the heart of the matter.
The fact that some of the interwoven strands of this mystery are not quite as clear cut as you might wish added a disturbing, dark, and addictive element to this novel that was satisfyingly chilling and definitely not for the faint-hearted. Through the mystery, we get insights into wider societal themes such as alcohol abuse, environmental crimes, and the impact of trauma, which I thought added real depth to this novel and made it stand out head and shoulders above your more run of the mill ‘missing persons’ mysteries and gave it a really atmospheric feel that added to its addictive nature.
Many novels in this genre are all about composing the twists and turns of the plot and can display a real disregard for the writing itself. Not so Gunnar Staaalesen, expertly and beautifully translated by Don Bartlett: his writing is evocative and vivid showing a real talent for transporting you to the beautiful nordic landscapes as well as the grittier side of the investigations. The sections of the novel which describe the emerging relationship between Varg and Siv was stunningly well written and really stood out in the middle of the investigations as being both credible and very moving.
The sure touch that Gunnar Staalesen brings to the Nordic noir genre makes for a satisfying, gripping and addictive read that drew me in completely. I can’t wait for Mr OnTheShelf to finish reading it so we can go for a long walk and talk our way through the twists and turns of this tale as I found its unique atmosphere and added human element to be absolutely gripping. The fact that he’s also engrossed speaks volumes as he’s not generally a fiction reader and Bitter Flowers really has him as engrossed as I was.
I have absolutely no doubt that in Varg I’ve found a new protagonist that I’ll be telling absolutely everyone about and I’ll definitely be looking out for the rest of his adventures. Bitter Flowers was the perfect blend of strong characterisation and cracking plot and the quality of writing made it hard to put down. Particular mention to the translator Don Bartlett who fully evokes the wonderful country it’s set in and makes me want to visit more than ever
#TeamOrenda have rounded up a series of amazing bloggers for this novel and I’m honoured to be part of Anne Cater’s tour Check out the #BlogTour poster to see who else is creating the buzz around Bitter Flowers.
Make sure that you order your own copy and find out how much you didn’t know about Nordic noir for yourself…
Writer On The Shelf
One of the fathers of Nordic Noir, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty titles, which have been published in twenty-four 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 has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour). Where Roses Never Die won the 2017 Petrona Award for Nordic Crime Fiction, and Big Sister was shortlisted for the award in 2019. He lives with his wife in Bergen.