It’s always such a pleasure to be part of a blog tour for one of the outstanding books published by Orenda Books, and today I’m delighted to feature Wolves in the Dark by Gunnar Staalesen, published in paperback on 15th June, and available in paperback and for kindle.
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’ve yet to engage with Varg Veum and his creator – and this is the 21st in the series – but the endorsements are incredibly impressive…
“Gunnar Staalesen is one of my very favourite Scandinavian authors. Operating out of Bergen in Norway, his private eye, Varg Veum, is a complex but engaging anti-hero. Varg means ‘wolf’ in Norwegian, and this is a series with very sharp teeth.” – Ian Rankin
“A Norwegian Chandler.” – Jo Nesbo
“Gunnar Staalesen was writing suspenseful and socially conscious Nordic Noir long before any of today’s Swedish crime writers had managed to put together a single book page… one of Norway’s most skillful storytellers.” – Johan Theorin
“Norwegian master Staalesen is an author who eschews police procedural narratives for noirish private eye pieces… with some abrasive social commentary.” – Financial Times
I’m delighted to welcome the author to Being Anne, with a wonderful guest post about a dark world…
As a crime writer, from time to time you have to sink yourself into dirty water and look into a dark world. When I wrote Wolves in the Dark, I had to search for background material for a very ugly theme. It used to be called children pornography. In Norway the police have now changed the vocabulary and call it abuse material. In my local town, Bergen, there is a group of police officers, the two principal officers being female, who, during the last year(s), have investigated and found a terrible quantity of this sort of material. They have also uncovered acts of abuse committed both in Norway against Norwegian children – many of them the abusers’ own children – and in foreign countries, very often in Thailand, where pedophiles can operate much more freely than in their home countries.
I have never taken my research so far as looking at this sort of material myself. Just the thought of it make me nauseous; and, if I searched this sort of material on the web, which in itself is illegal, I would risk getting into the same situation Varg Veum finds himself in in this novel: having the police knocking on his door early one morning.
As a father and a grandfather I have problems understanding how people who commit this sort of crime think, what makes them act like this against their own children, their neighbours’ children, or children they have found on the Internet – very often by posing as children themselves. Grown-up people who rape babies: what does the inside of their heads look like, when on the outside they can seem quite normal? They can be your own neighbour, a teacher of your children, an assistant working in a kindergarten. This is a mystery that I, as a crime writer, wanted to explore, to see if there were any possible explanations – some specific reasons for this abuse.
There is another sort of crime in this book, which is also terrifying. How well is your computer protected? How sure can you be that someone who hates you cannot get into your computer and leave material there that seems to have been placed there by you? So that when the police get into your computer, they find just the kind of material I speak about in this article: abuse material. Can you be sure that you can prove that you did not search the web for it yourself? This is a frightening question for anyone – and that is most of us – who sits in front of a computer almost every day. Those of us who write books, in particular, sit like this for hours, day after day. Can we be sure that some hacker, either from our own neighbourhood, or from Moscow or Dallas, cannot get into our computers and create big trouble for us?
Both these themes are not familiar territory for me, so it was vital I did my research. Usually, I find the background material for my writing in the newspapers, and from radio or TV programmes, and, of course, on the same, frightening, web. Perhaps even more importantly, though, I interview people. When it came to the abuse material, I had the feeling that I knew enough about that from the news media before starting to write. When it came to the other theme I had to speak with some people that knew more about computers and the web than me. Some of this background work you will find in the book – mostly in the dialogue spoken by the police and other important characters.
It will come as no surprise to the reader that you do not have to be a murderer to write about murders. But as a crime writer you have to use your imagination to create these sorts of crimes and the characters that have the capacity to commit them in your books. That, I can assure you, can be hard work – perhaps the hardest work for a crime writer.
I am always happy when I have finished a book: the mystery is solved and the criminal is most likely going to be punished. However, the questions remain: How was it possible? How could they commit horrors like that? The readers have to ask themselves the same questions and find their own answers. Asking the right questions is perhaps the most important task for a writer. Finding the answers is the readers’ responsibility.
Quite fascinating… thank you! And thanks also to Anne Cater and Karen Sullivan for inviting me to be part of the tour and sourcing the material. And you’ll find many more great posts – including some stunning reviews – from other bloggers taking part…
About Gunnar Staalesen (and not forgetting Don Bartlett…)
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.
Don Bartlett is the foremost translator of Norwegian, responsible for the multi award-winning, bestselling books by Jo Nesbo, Karl Ove Knausgaard and Per Pettersen. It is rare to have a translator who is as well-known and highly regarded as the author.