I adored this book. Quite simply, one the most enjoyable crime reads I have encountered.
Set amongst the fjords, ferries, and dark spruce forests of Norway in the year 1987, this Scandinavian noir thriller, a gloriously-translated entry in the PI Varg Venum series, is an incredibly powerful book, written with such skill and finesse that the plot itself, as engrossing and ingenious as it is, becomes almost immaterial.
For this reader, discovering PI Varg Venum, and a whole new series based on his cases to explore, was a joyous experience. Strong, sardonic, and vulnerable in the way of all outsiders with a dark and fractured past, this private investigator, (a sort of Norwegian version of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser), is picture-perfect as he works to uncover the perpetrators of a series of murders, puzzlingly tied to an accelerating eco-war causing headaches for a chemicals company, an unsolved eight-year old child abduction case, and a crumbling family dynasty.
Visually stunning, this author does not write, but rather paints, with words, metaphors, and similes, anthropomorphisms and so many literary tricks it would take a masters thesis to decipher them. Streams of images, so evocative that you see and feel, – weather, nature, animals, the known and the imagined – weave so seamlessly into plot that experiencing this book becomes visceral, occupying all of your senses, as vividly as if you were living them yourself.
“I thought of her firm, strong fingers, how they kneaded and massaged my neck muscles until they softened and turned to butter and silk beneath my skin.”
“On pavements people strolled, in couples or groups, at their ease, like lemmings on Valium. “
“I had cypresses behind my eyes, lemon peel in my mouth, and acid in my blood.”
“The forest was close here on both sides of the road. The trees leaned forward like concentrated jurors, listening but still unable to see the link”
“She lies against me like cherry blossom falling from the tree after flowering is over. “
(I could go on and on, but you really must read this book…)
Five (and more, really, however many you can find) stars. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy atmospheric and visually-haunting Scandinavian crime fiction, with a wonderfully smart-alecked protagonist and a deftly managed plot. (Don’t you want to read it now?)
My stop today on the @randomttours #blogtour for #BitterFlowers #vargVeum #ChillingWinterReads #NordicNoir @OrendaBooks
A great big thank you to the author, and the publisher for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.