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Fiction Book Reviews

Review | Fallen Angels | Gunnar Staalesen

We’re delighted to be sharing Elena’s thoughts about Fallen Angels by Gunnar Staalesen on the Random Things Tours.

Book cover for Fallen Angels by Gunnar Staalesen

When Bergen PI Varg Veum finds himself at the funeral of a former classmate on a sleet-grey December afternoon, he s unexpectedly reunited with his old friend Jakob guitarist of the once-famous 1960s rock band The Harpers and his estranged wife, Rebecca, Veum’s first love.

Their rekindled friendship is thrown into jeopardy by the discovery of a horrific murder, and Veum is forced to dig deep into his own adolescence and his darkest memories, to find a motive and a killer.

Tense, vivid and deeply unsettling, Fallen Angels is the spellbinding, award-winning thriller that secured Gunnar Staalesen’s reputation as one of the world s foremost crime writers.

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This Nordic Noir story is part of a series featuring PI Varg Veum, and is set in Bergen, Norway.

It begins with Varg being reunited with some old school friends at a funeral of one of their group and he soon realises that over the years he has less and less in common with any of them. Set in the 80s, the story builds slowly as we get to know each of the characters in depth before any actual murder happens. Varg is confronted with hidden nostalgic feelings which start to resurface as he remembers his one true love Rebecca, who is now married to Jakob one of the group he’s reunited with at the funeral.

After another friend mysteriously dies Varg begins to wonder whether there is a link between the deaths, and as we delve into the different characters’ pasts and psyches we can see that there are hidden jealousies and bitterness that could signal the reason for these deaths.

This is the first book in the series that I’ve read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It can totally be read as a standalone book.

I loved the slow building tension as the story unravels and surprised myself with the unsettling sympathy I felt for the victim.

The atmosphere like the story is dark and brooding. The moody backdrop of the city of Bergen magnifies this.

I finished this story wanting to add Bergen to my must-visit list and I even enjoyed the truly dark moments which made me physically recoil as I read.

Fallen Angels is a fantastic winter read which left me wanting to read more in the series.

Elena's author image

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) and Where Roses Never Die won the 2017 Petrona Award for Nordic Crime Fiction, and Big Sister was shortlisted in 2019. He lives with his wife in Bergen.

Qualified as a Sleep Consultant, Dyslexia Therapist, Reiki Master, Mental Health First Aider and Mindfulness Practitioner, my passion is for sharing anything that will make life easier. My love of reading, crocheting, being out in nature and positive psychology are all things that help me unwind.


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