I’ve read a few crime novels by Norwegian writers, but this Euro Crime paperback of a book first published as long ago as 1979 was my introduction to the work of Gunnar Staalesen. Yours Until Death is set in Bergen and features private detective Varg Veum, Staalesen’s main series character. And I thought it was excellent.
Credit must go to translator Margaret Amassien for an attractive piece of work – she renders Staalesen’s prose in a very appealing way. This is a well-written novel, which makes very good use of the Bergen backdrop, and it’s a much cleverer mystery than I anticipated after the early pages.
The story begins with a young boy, Roar, asking gumshoe Varg to help his mother, who is being menaced by a teenage gang which hangs out near their flat. Varg lends a hand, and quickly falls under the spell of the mother, the lovely Wenche Andresen. He finds himself embroiled in Wenche’s rather unfortunate private life, and when a man is found dead on the premises, Wenche is the obvious suspect. She is arrested, but Varg is determined to help her prove her innocence.
One unlikely feature of the book is the way so many characters confide very extensively in Varg, but Staalesen just about managed to get me to suspend my disbelief. The revelation about the main culprit comes as a genuine surprise. This is a very enjoyable private eye story, distinctive and memorable.