Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley
Varg Veum is a literary character that I first meet though television. MHZ had the Varg Veum movies on, and I watched them. So, I started reading the series in a haphazard fashion, or in other words, totally out of order.
This installment finds Veum coming out of a drinking addiction fueled by depression after a death. In part, some of his sobering comes from meeting a woman (who has a daughter) and part of it comes from being accused of child pedophilia.
The novel opens with the arrival of the police to arrest Veum and search his apartment, and the book stays to the break neck speed. In a cell, Veum is forced to remember as much as his drunk years as he can because someone, he doesn’t know who, is setting him up.
Not many people believe him. Strangely enough his new girlfriend is one of those who does.
I guess he is lucky that way, for those that have known him the longest, by and large, view him as guilty.
On one hand, the story is a non-stop thriller. It starts with a bust and keeps going. The pace never seems to slow, not surprising when Veum isn’t given the time to catch his breath. The characters are well written, possibly not the girlfriend who seems a bit too trusting, yet she is not stupid. Even though at times it seems like too much coincidental. The ending too, is on level, a typical white male ending. It is difficult to image an immigrant or even a woman, even in Norway, having the same reaction as Varg Veum to the final outcome.
In part, that might be part of the problem with this book – Veum never seems quite aware of the societal pressures, norms, what have you, that contribute or allow the trafficking and abuse of children (and women) to occur. On one hand, there are times when a reader wants to smack Veum for his cluelessness on the matter. Doesn’t he realize, the reader might wonder under her breath, in particular when he is confronting woman. Then one wonders if this genius on the part of Staalesen. What better way to show a problem? There is no preaching, no holier than though. And this provokes more thought.
This book will most likely get less attention then Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. A shame considering that it is better written and far more powerful for its subtlety.