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Varg Vuem Books In Order

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Publication Order of Varg Veum Books

Yours Until Death (1979)Description / Buy at Amazon
At Night All Wolves Are Grey (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
Fallen Angels (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Writing on the Wall (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Consorts of Death (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cold Hearts (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
We Shall Inherit the Wind (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
Where Roses Never Die (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Wolves in the Dark (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Big Sister (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
Wolves at the Door (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bitter Flowers (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mirror Image (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

The Varg Vuem series is a set of novels by Norwegian detective crime fiction author, Gunnar Staalesen. With 20 titles, the first of the compelling crime thrillers was released in 1977 with the twentieth published in 2016. The novels feature Varg Vuem a private detective as the lead character. When we are introduced to the chief protagonist, he is living and working in the city of Bergen on the Norwegian West Coast. Most of his work is done in and around the city of Bergen, where most of his cases involve unraveling dark mysteries. The name Varg in Old Norse stands for Wolf, while his full name literally translates to Wolf-in-a-holy-place. As a private detective that for the most part likes to work his cases alone, there is no better name for Varg Vuem, the best of the best among private eyes. As compared to other modern day fiction detectives, the author says Vuem is more like a Philip Marlowe than a Sam Spade. He always makes his job harder, particularly when dealing with other investigative colleagues since he adopts unconventional techniques. Often laughed at during his investigations, in most instances, he has the last laugh as he cracks more cases than any other detective in Bergen, private or otherwise. A man in his mid-forties, he has dark blonde hair, which is graying a bit around the ears and on his temples. Vuem dresses casually, preferring jeans and tweed jackets, and a tartan tie on a light shirt, and could easily pass for a pension or life insurance salesperson.

The Varg Vuem series of books are some of the most popular of crime fiction novels to come from Norway. The explosive popularity of the novels in Gunnar Staalesen’s Norway resulted in the translation of the novel into different language editions including, Czech, Polish, French, English, Danish, Greek, and Bulgarian among many other European languages. Published in 24 countries with more than 4 million copies of the Varg Vuem novels sold all over the world, the series helped establish Staalesen as one of the foremost crime fiction writers of our time. The novels went on to win a number of significant awards, including the Gyldendals’ Endowment Prize in 1989, and the Norwegian Booksellers Prize. The first English translation in the series was Din, til døden, which was published as Yours Until Death in 2010. Since 2007, the English versions of the books have been adapted into highly popular films starring Trond Espen Seim, the popular Norwegian actor in the lead role of Varg Vuem. All of the films have since been released in Blue-Ray and DVD.

Gunnar Staalesen describes the enigmatic private detective as a reclusive man that has been working with a variety of partners on a variety of cases in Bergen. 42 years old, Varg Vuem has been divorced since 1974 and has never remarried. He has however had several short relationships, particularly with his partners, though nothing serious. In the more recent novels though, Vuem gets into a relationship with Karin, a girl he meets while doing an investigation for one of his clients. Despite his rather excellent sleuthing reputation, he comes across as rather dull, spending most of his time in a run of the mill office, reading magazines until he gets a call to investigate something big. However, despite his bland appearance, he has knack for spotting the unusual that many other detectives would never deem important. His military background also serves him well when dealing with Bergen’s underworld as he can protect himself better than most. This is important for a man who frequently finds himself dealing with an assortment of criminal syndicates and psychopaths that would think nothing of killing him if they had a chance. What Staalasen has done very well in the series is the portrayal of Varg as a complex yet engaging protagonist.

The Consorts of Death is one of the best books if you are new to Varg Vuem, given that most of the action happens in flashback. The novel tells of Vuem’s back-story including his history as a social worker up to the time he became involved in the world of private investigations. A newly released prisoner, Johnny Boy has him on his target list as one of the people he believes are culpable for current predicament. He first met his adversary when Johnny Boy was but a baby. He later met him in different circumstances when his foster father is found dead and all indications point to the young man being guilty of the murder. Vuem and two of his fellow social workers take Johnny into their care before handing him over to another family. Soon after, he leaves the department of social services and never thinks about the boy until ten years later, when he bumps into him while working his latest case. When a crime takes place in a remote farmhouse Varg is called in to investigate. He believes the crime may have links to a century old crime that the authorities have never resolved. In his investigations, he unearths many coincidences and mysterious links between several cases over the decades since the first one occurred. The last part of the novel is focused on the present day, and is an investigation of the relationships and motives that tie in Johnny Boy to the old crimes. Staalasen writes a well-paced and cleverly constructed novel that ends in an explosive climax.

Yours Until Death is another very popular early novel in the Varg Vuem series. The novel opens with Varg taking on the case of a boy, Roar who has had his bike stolen by a teenage gang. Roar who lives alone with his mother is reluctant to try to recover the bike himself, having seen the thugs beat up one of his friends who had tried the same thing. Varg easily tracks the gang to a cabin in the forest and gets back the bike. Delivering the bike to Roar, he gets to meet his charming mother Wenche, and learns about life in the flats where the teenage gangs led by the psychopathic Joker, run operate with impunity. Filled with sympathy for the downtrodden, he is soon investigating the conditions of the tower dwellers, trying to find a solution to the teenage crime gang. It is not long before a real crime happens right in front of the Joker and Varg. Given his experience with investigations and police dealings, Varg is soon at the center of the police investigation. Applying himself to the best traditions of detective work he ferrets out information from the victim’s associates, jots down their stories, and tries to come up with theories on what it all means. By the end, Staalasen airs out our prejudices through Varg’s dogged persistence at establishing the motivation and identity of the criminals. This is one well-written novel with a cleverly executed ending.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Varg Vuem

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