North East England, Norway: The Silent Room – Mari Hannah

mari hannah

Why a booktrail?

2000s – A prisoner sprung from a van on a Newcastle road will lead to a trail of conspiracy reaching all the way to murder.

Story

A disgraced Special Branch officer sits in the back of a prison van on its way to Durham prison. No sooner has it set off then armed men storm the van and hijack the prisoner.

The prisoner, Jack Fenwick is the former boss of Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan who is immediately suspected of somehow being involved. He is suspended and so locked out of the manhunt.

However when the official investigation goes awry, Ryan is determined to find out what really is going on and so he goes ‘underground’ enlisting others to help him get to the truth.

The truth turns out to be  lot darker than Ryan or anyone else could have imagined and will take them to Norway in the grip of an international conspiracy that is by no means over yet.

Place and setting

map-of-mari-hannah

map-of-newcastle
Central Station The old Victorian pub where Ryan goes to meet someone is near to the Centre for Life where a car is tracked. Pitcher and Piano Quayside Several mentions of the Quayside including a drink where Grace and Ryan take time to chat about events Nuns Moor Road, Fenham Grace lives here and it’s where the Silent Room is located Newcastle Crown Court The prison van leaves here and crossed the Swing Bridge before being hijacked close to Durham

 

North East of England

Crown Court Newcastle. From the start as the prison van carrying Jack Fenwick leaves the court at Newcastle’s Quayside and makes its way across the Swing Bridge, making its way into Gateshead and towards Durham, you just know where this is going to happen and the impact when it does it by no means diminished. The hijacking is brutal and vivid, emotions raw and the hunt is on.

The aftermath takes you on a journey in and around Newcastle,  the inner workings of Northumbria police and the Professional Standards branch. The demands of the jobs are brutal and unforgiving, the dedication of the team clear yet there are some characters who seem hell bent on getting their own foot on the ladder and to heck with anyone else.

The team are made up of Eloise O’Neill – a no nonsense taking woman and DI Macguire who represents everything Ryan hates in a copper. The animosity and suspicion of the police of one of their own bristles and rankles with Ryan’s belief in the truth. Grace Ellis a retired officer who worked with Jack in the Serious Incident Squad creates a ‘silent room’ – a secret bunker style of incident room where a team kept out of the official investigation start their own.

The North East is a nice backdrop to the search – local colour is interspersed at regular intervals to place the action. From the small village of Dunstan Steads where Ryan lives to the inner city setting of Fenham where Grace lives and where the local news team headed by the real life presenter Ian Payne (as himself) comes to the fore blends local colour nicely with an author proud of her surroundings.

Norway

The investigation takes a new turn when it is discovered that the death of a Norwegian national could be linked to the case. That’s where this mention of Norway ends however as the events which take place here are central to the novel and so it’s on the booktrail map but you have to read the book to find out why.

Review

Well Mari, you certainly know how to ramp up the tension and create a police team that pulls no punches! With her paintbrush speckled with North East colour, she washes it over the gritty, punchy story, interspersed with action, fast moving events and a trail which leads to a very interesting and unique conclusion!

This is no Kate Daniels. Heck I’m sure she could work in the team but then I was rather afraid of O’Neill and Maguire myself so kudos if the three of them should ever meet. These are the tough guys – the hard men of Northumbria police. These guys mean business – violence, double dealing and a dark dark core makes this a thrilling, bumpy and dangerous ride.

I liked Ryan. He had guts and determination to find out what really happened and the premise of the silent room was intriguing. I shall now wander down Nuns Moor Road where Grace lived and wonder where this place could be…hmm and in quiet Fenham who would have guessed?

The splashes of local colour such as Ian Payne, mention of Gazza, the Quayside and the heritage of the old pub in Central station makes this a novel which stands proudly on the NE literary map.

This is a gritty read and it was a real surprise to see how events took them to Norway and a whole other area of intrigue. Being a language fan, it was great to read the smattering of Norwegian which added to the overall sense of place. The conspiracy unravelled and there were some unexpected and neatly done twists.

Mari I am now going to rest a little, my heart thumping as it is. I need to lie down somewhere quiet although maybe not in the silent room that you write about.

Author Info:

Twitter: @mariwriter

Web: marihannah.com

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Geneva, Norway, Liepzig, Greece: The Storm Sister – Lucinda Riley

STORM

Why a booktrail?

1875, 2007: The epic second tale about the second of the Seven Sisters taking you from the shores of Lake Geneva, via Greece, Bergen/Oslo and Liepzig

Story

Ally D’Aplièse is about to compete in one of the world’s most exhilarating but dangerous yacht races, when she learns that her adoptive father has died suddenly. When she returns home to Geneva, she finds that along with her sisters, Pa Salt as he was affectionately known has left each of them a clue as to their true heritage.

Deciding to follow the trail and find out who she really is and where she comes from, she leaves behind her sailing life and her new love affair to venture out into the most thrilling yet nerve-wracking journey of her life. A journey that will take her to the mountains of Norway and right to the heart of a famous composer Grieg and  a  little unknown singer who changed the world.

But there are some questions left unanswered….for now.

Place and setting

LUCINDA

The Aegean Sea

Greece (Naxos, Mykonos, Macheres, the Aegean sea) chora

In the middle of the idyllic and peaceful Aegean sea, sailing from Naxos to Mykonos and everywhere in between, Ally is about to compete in the most gruelling and famous Yacht race in the world. She has fought to get where she is, in what is largely a male dominated sport. Falling in love with the skipper wasn’t in her plans but soon there’s is a perfect romance and the frantic and exciting world of yacht racing, the waves slapping up against the boat, the crew banter and the sheer hard work involved in such a sport are evoked with vibrancy – the sweat and toil, danger of it all – “ All sailors are in a dangerous game and one just never knows” says Theo.

Before stormy waters change her life for ever.

Atlantis, Geneva

The magical and somewhat majestic ‘ posh orphanage’ as the sisters call their home. A place on the shores of Lake Geneva where Pa Salt, an enigmatic millionaire took six girls and adopted them. What happened to the seventh remains a mystery. Ally returns her to sadness, finds the clues her father has left and reunites breifly with the sisters before heading off on her search for her own destiny – with a book translated from the Norwegian which her father intended her to read.

Norway

Engerbret cafe http://engebret-cafe.no/ Jens and Anna meet here The Ibsen museum http://www.norskfolkemuseum.no/ibsenmuseet Essential to both Anna and Ally’s stories OSlo - St Olavs Gate Anna first lives here when she moves to Oslo to sing Sankt Olavs Gate 13A 0165 Oslo, Norway 59.918079, 10.740765 The National theatre, Johanne Dybwads plass 1 http://www.nationaltheatret.no/ Where Anna sings...
Engerbret cafe
engebret-cafe.no
Jens and Anna meet here
The Ibsen museum
norskfolkemuseum.no/ibsenmuseet
Essential to both Anna and Ally’s stories
Oslo – St Olavs Gate
Anna first lives here when she moves to Oslo to sing
The National theatre, Johanne Dybwads plass 1
nationaltheatret.no
Where Anna sings…

Somewhere in the Telemarkt area of Norway, on the banks of a mountain, a young girl Anna gets the chance to sing in a prestigious musical performance in Christiana, (Oslo) Her journey there is unusual for a country girl used to herding cows all day but soon she is singing on the world stage and her story of her life and career unfold. Her rural life becomes one of fame and fortune and events soon turn into something much more dramatic.

Life in Bergen

Life here with the music scene and on the search into Grieg and his musical legacy is a joy to discover. As Ally discovers more, she revisits the places where those of years earlier once lived and worked. From the Grieg museum where the famous man once lived to the wonderful Frokehuset with its frog symbology, this is where the musical world comes to life and the stories of past and present truly merge as a black and white photo is placed on top of layers of colour.

Troldhaugen – Grieg’s home

griegmuseum.no/en

Edvard Grieg House, Troldhaugvegen 65, Paradis, Norway

Liepzig 

The story ends up in Liepzig where to tell you how would give too much away. The musical trail takes us here to a world of opera, classical music and theatre. The story of a star with his own former glory and link to the Grieg legacy who may just have the last little thread to unravel Ally’s past and reveal the truth behind her legacy.

Both Anna and Ally’s stories are woven together bringing their journeys to the ultimate destination that unites them in one destiny – that which Pa Salt left in his legacy.

STORM

REVIEW

Susan:

There’s always one author I just know I’m going to enjoy and after having read the first in the Seven Sisters series which I loved, I was intrigued to find out what would happen to the second sister Ally.

A long book yes but not long enough really. It’s an epic read in every sense of the word from the locations around the world to the journey it takes you on musically and physically. The tales of a famous composer and one of the seven sisters is magically woven together and it’s  a breathtaking journey.

I loved the idea of Ally travelling back to a place her father had left her clues about and as she read the book he had left her, then travelled to the place we’re taken back in time to when those events happened and from Anna and Jens to Pip and Grieg, the journey was fascinating and I loved getting to know each and every one of these people and how their stories linked together and across time.

Lucinda paints and writes music with her words for there is a lot of musical content in the book  – the passion of the behind the scenes preparation, the hard work involved and that tingle you feel when a solo voice emanates from the stage – every emotion, chill on the back of your neck and musical note in your ear is vividly evoked and more.

What a read – take your time that’s my advice and savour this journey. The amount of detail, research and twists and turns makes for an exhilarating journey with many shocks along the way. The writing is like the music it describes – uplifting, flowing along with a dramatic crescendo leaving you applauding loudly and wanting more.

Blood on Snow – Oslo – Jo Nesbo

Blood

Why a booktrail?

A departure from the norm for Nesbo with Olav, a man tasked with killing a woman he then develops feelings for.

Story in a nutshell

Olav Johansen is a rather solitary person working as a ‘fixer’ – someone who gets rid of people his boss wants ‘taken care of’

His boss is the major player in Oslo’s prostitution and heroin ‘industries’ and wants Olav to kill his wife. As Olav prepares to research his victim, he gets to know her and finds himself falling for her. Now he wants to protect her rather than anything else – and he knows exactly the danger she is in.

Olav is not your usual fixer. He’s rather sensitive with a dry sense of humour and believes his only talent is killing.

Place and setting

Oslo Fjord where the book opens - the scene set against this darkness Oslo Harbour The warehouses on the quayside are all shut up for the night Bygdøy allé Oslo where the Hoffman’s live. Olav rents an appartment opposite *National Theatre (Nationaltheatret)  Johanne Dybwads plass 1 Olav follows someone to the underground station here Old Aker Church Akersbakken 26 A site where he waits for Corinna
Oslo Fjord
where the book opens – the scene set against this darkness
Oslo Harbour
The warehouses on the quayside are all shut up for the night
Bygdøy allé
Oslo
where the Hoffman’s live. Olav rents an appartment opposite
National Theatre (Nationaltheatret)
Johanne Dybwads plass 1
Olav follows someone to the underground station here
Old Aker Church
Akersbakken 26
A site where he waits for Corinna

Oslo

There is snow on the ground in Oslo. There is blood on that snow.

“The snow was dancing like cotton wool in the light of the street lamps.”

Not your usual behaviour of snow in a Jo Nesbo novel. It falls aimlessly to the ground, letting the wind blow it any which way, with the darkness of the Oslo fjord acting as the perfect black backdrop – white against black, a contrast which will acquire a shade of red – blood – later in the book.

Blood on snow reminds him of a King’s robe. His mother loved Norwegian fairytales and kings and is probably why he’s named after one.

The setting here is one of Oslo’s underbelly, the world that Olav inhabits as his boss Hoffman is the crime kingpin of the city. Involved in both prostitution and the drug’s world, he oversees the worst of Oslo society.

Olav is part of that souless and morale free world, enjoying the fact he can kill easily and that’s he’s good at it.

With a world spiralling out of control, Olav and Corina go on the run, but Oslo is not a large city. No place would be big enough to hide when Hoffman is after you. You could try doing a deal with the competition but then who plays by the rules in this game?

Oslo might be snowy, peaceful and calm on the surface, but dig a little deeper and the snow is not white and untouched. Secrets buried will surface and stain at some point..

Bookish musings

I’m still reeling from reading this. It’s very graphic and that I know is a Nesbo speciality but still… I found it strange that I was starting to worry and wonder about someone who’s just told me he kills people for a living. A killer with a conscious? I’d never read about a man who killed as he wasn’t good at anything else. A  man with dyslexia and other issues seems hellbent of doing this hideous job. Just when you think he’s human – he does something violent. The novel is short and almost reads like a novella but it does set the scene for a follow up later in the year.

I rattled through this as it’s an accessible read but I’m still shocked by that ending.

We Shall Inherit the Wind – Norway – Gunnar Staalesen

inhertiwind

Why a booktrail?

A detective story with an environmental focus set in Norway. Wind farms are not your usual setting for a crime thriller, but these silent monsters can be deadly…

Story in a nutshell

Mons Mæland has been reported missing. His second wife Ranveig is getting very worried. Mons has recently caused controversy by wanting to build a wind farm on his land. But would this be enough to kidnap him or worse?  When a body turns up, the whole affair becomes a lot darker and intriguing. He has been brutally murdered.

Varg Veum is the man,a private detective who comes to the area to investigate the case.He has troubles of his own – his girlfriend is dying in hospital. Flashbacks show how events have led up to this day.

Varg is drawn into a difficult and emotional case. when it is discovered that Mons Mæland’s first wife disappeared several years earlier, the case gets murkier still. she is believed to have drowned, but no body has ever been found.

A dark dark maze of eco terrorism, unsolved mysteries and some shady goings on through the eyes of man they call ‘Lone Wolf’

Place and setting

norway

Gulen Janaflaten, sotra bridge Where Maeland Real estate is situated Haukeland University Hospital, Jonas Lies vei 65, 5021 Bergen, Norway where we meet Varg at the bed side of his girlfriend the island of Lygra Neighbouring island to fictional Brennøy Island of  Byrknesøyna Neighbouring island to fictional Brennøy
Gulen
Janaflaten, sotra bridge
Where Maeland Real estate is situated
Haukeland University Hospital, Jonas Lies vei 65, 5021 Bergen, Norway
where we meet Varg at the bed side of his girlfriend
the island of Lygra
Neighbouring island to fictional Brennøy
Island of Byrknesøyna
Neighbouring island to fictional Brennøy

Now before you go searching for Brennøy in Gulen, the author states that you will be disappointed for Brennøy is fictional. Given the subject matter and the story, perhaps understandably. But he says, you don’t have to go far in order to find wind farms in and around Gulen. There is a place called Brennøy in the south of the country but let’s no digress

Gulen is a cold harsh place in the novel -on the island where they are headed –

The trees stood like dark monuments … Above us hung the sky, grey and heavy with rain. Varg and the others arrive ‘ like a cortege’

The missing man ran Mæland Real Estate in Janaflaten industrial estate south of Sotra bridge. Mæland owns land upon which the wind-farm may be built so Mons is an important cog in the wheel. In the 1990s, environmental energy was being developed and was very much a controversial area. Many are against it and passionately so.

“The shipping authorities don’t seem to care much about the environment, when you see what they dump in our waters. Same goes for the utterly ridiculous plans they have for these so- called wind farms of theirs.”

Raw, gritty and isolated from the outside world, Gulen and the surrounding islands – Byrknesoy, Lygra – are harsh, unforgiving places. The man’s children are as equally distant but then a different wind blows in and changes the direction of everything…

This is a landscape where nothing is as it seems, where the land and the energy sources dictate how men live and even more how they behave. Added to that the relgious angle which comes up given the nature in which his body is found and there are some deep dark waters in this part of Norway…

Just how much are people prisoners to their landscape and to financial gain? Is environmental terrorism ever justified?

Bookish musings

What words immediately come to mind after reading this book? Dark, chilling, troubling, gripping…? All true but here’s something that not many crime thrillers leave me with and that is the thought provoking angle of what we do to the environment and how we justify this to ourselves.

Wind farms are chilly places at the best of times. (no pun intended) Some call them elegant but I see white, ghost like figures on the remote landscape. A community which looks to exploit their natural habit, to ensure a way of life and to provide for the future is understandable, yet there are a lot of angry people in the book who object – also for environmental reasons.

Varg Veum is definitely a lone wolf in a remote and raw landscape and the way we know from the beginning of he novel , something of what is to come, adds to the overall gripping atmosphere. I found myself shouting out loud at him, like a lamb to the slaughter, having become totally immersed in his fate and investigation.

The issues within the novel are through provoking and real and the whole denouement was a surprise. The small wolf prints inside the novel were a particular nice reminded of the wild and desolate land these pages contained within.

Wolf-paw-print

Jo Nesbo – The arrival of a literary rock star……Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – part two

photo (29)

Jo Nesbo in Harrogate – part two

There was a lot to discover about Jo Nesbo that night – first of all the ‘Bono’ glasses he was wearing was not a reference to that fine rock star or Jo’s own rock star past, but an eye infection.

The Bono glasses

He laughed at the irony of the glasses and at his own rock star credentials. His band were called  – Di Derre  – he said, and they would  have to change their name regularly as they were so bad but – Di Derre, ‘those guys’ in Norwegian stuck. And the rest they say is history.

What about the trappings of a rock star life? Did he have private jets and fast cars?

You can tell how well your books are selling by the size of the car they pick you up in at the airport’, he said. No smart cars for this man, then. No  – one time was actually a private jet was sent. Very cool he laughed.

He still looked the rock star as he chatted to Mark Lawson – his designer stubble, Bono shades, and black clothes, not to mention the bottles of beer on the table beside him. No normal water for Jo Nesbo!

So Harry Hole? This new book is not about him so will Harry be back?

Yes, he said. Harry is just taking a much needed holiday (after his latest adventures the poor guy must really need some TLC) He will be back and n the meantime, the film of The Snowman is being discussed with Martin Scorsese…..

How did the name Harry Hole come about?

It came from two people – Harry a famous Norwegian footballer and a man in his village where he lived as a child with the surname Hole. The name took on a scary image as the neighbour was a tall old man with a beard and Jo was told that if he was naughty ‘Hole’ would get you…

Blood on Snow

Jo’s original plan in writing this was to write about a fictional writer Tom Johansen from the 70s who is snatched from the airport in what he calls an express kidnapping (where the person is released practically overnight if the ransom is paid)

He wanted to create a Wikipedia entry for this man, pretend he existed in real life and even write the books that this fictional writer would have written. Sadly the lawyers stepped in so he instead turned to writing Johansen’s novels. The first – Blood on Snow….

There were many amusing questions of the night, least of all one guy who asked ‘ Do your friends now avoid you or think you’re a bit weird when they see what you write?

He laughed and nodded his head. Yeah, no I don’t think so” , he said. He still has his old friends, his old hangouts and prefers the quiet life that way.

Jo Nesbo – a rockstar of his own making and Tom Johansen – the start of a new and exciting Nesbo chapter…

jonesbo

We are honoured to have FOUR copies of BLOOD ON SNOW  to giveaway!! One has been signed by the man himself! Look!

Enter by likening and sharing Facebook page and answering our little questionhttps://www.facebook.com/thebooktrail

photo (30)

The arrival of a literary rock star……Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – part one

photo (29)

The tension and the excitement in the audience was palpable……

For the stage in front of us was set and the arrival of the special guest star was imminent.

The thumping baseline of ‘Flash’s Theme’ by Queen – the Flash Gordon theme song pumped in time with our heartbeats and the sound was deafening. A true literary rockstar in all senses of the word was about to enter the room.

To add to the atmosphere, a mist was starting to descend and fill the room threatening to swallow us all up in a snowstorm of sorts. Snow…..the fear crept inside me and I turned to the guy next to me whose beard had taken on a blood red tinge thanks to the rotating spotlight above. The musical thunder swallowed my screams…

Would there be Blood on Snow? Should I not have reread The Snowman the night before? Now, if I saw a scarf lying on the floor, abandoned from its snowman body, that was it, I’d be out of there!

Then a man fighting his way through the mist, dressed in black, waving his arms to find his way – a bit like a Phantom…..I was half out of my chair but phew it was luckily Mark Lawson, presenter and broadcaster extraordinaire.

And then…

…..the man himself…..

…the Redeemer…… came into view

Shocks and gasps from the audience showed greatness had arrived….

Jo Nesbo was in the house……….

Disclaimer – some or all of this experience may or may not have been true since the writer has a overly vivid imagination..

But this evening – the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival was very real and very exciting indeed….

Tuesday Teaser: The Snowman – Oslo – Jo Nesbo

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

We have The Snowman by Jo Nesbo – set in Oslo, Norway –  a perfect read for this time of year:

snowman

Blurb –

SOON THE FIRST SNOW WILL COME.

A young boy wakes to find his mother missing. Their house is empty but outside in the garden he sees his mother’s favourite scarf – wrapped around the neck of a snowman.

AND THEN HE WILL APPEAR AGAIN.

As Harry Hole and his team begin their investigation they discover that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years.

AND WHEN THE SNOW IS GONE…

When a second woman disappears it seems that Harry’s worst suspicions are confirmed: for the first time in his career Harry finds himself confronted with a serial killer operating on his home turf.

…HE WILL HAVE TAKEN SOMEONE ELSE

Teasers –

‘A face,’ he whispered

She flinched. ‘Where?’

‘Outside the window’

Her son was pale and his lower lip was trembling

‘Is there anything wrong?’ she asked

‘Yes’, he said. ‘I saw him’

What do you mean she said, turning the key in the ignition and turning

‘The snowman…’

Scary……Don’t read this if it is snowing outside……

Welcome to the Norway of Gunnar Staalesen

 

The book trail is  excited to open up 2014 with a writer who is slowly being translated into English. A Norwegian crime writer who is extremely popular in his home country is gradually being introduced to the English speaking world and bringing the gritty streets of Norway and its underbelly to a whole new audience. Think you know Scandinavian crime fiction? Think again.

Unknown

Cold Hearts is set in Bergen, Norway. However, the streets of Bergen in Staalesen’s book are not the ones you would want to walk down. Varg Veum, the private investigator, takes the reader on a journey of exploitation, inherent threat and a cold hard journey towards the truth. And all in chillingly heart wrenching real time.

Even the protagonist name – Varg is threatening and cold – Varg means “Wolf” – His full name translates as “Wolf-in-a-holy-place,” in old Norse  – an outsider in other words which describes any private eye on the oustskirts of society in the perfect way. So, a perfect guide to this harsh cold environment.

 

Story in a nutshell –

A prostitute is concerned about the disappearance of one of her friends, Margrethe, or Maggi as she is known.  On the night she had disappeared, Maggi had refused a trick from a curb crawler and had fled the car in terror. Another prostitute who effectively takes her place is badly beaten up.

Varg is tasked with finding out what happened to her and who on earth was in that car. His background as a social worker has given him a lot of experience in dealing with families of difficult circumstances – Maggi’s brother who has been in prison for many years has also now disappeared. Then a prostitute ends up dead.

Varg must quickly unravel the past to find the answers.

Scandinavian crime fiction tends to concentrate on socio-political issues woven into the narrative and Cold Hearts is no exception. Norway’s welfare society comes under close scrutiny.

 

Strandgaten  - image courtesy of Wikipedia
Strandgaten – image courtesy of Wikipedia

 

A book trail thorough Norway

In his native Norway and indeed in much of Scandinavia as a whole, Staalesen is a popular author. He puts extreme importance on how a person’s surroundings and society can fail and mould a person. The city’s streets for example are as much of a character in the book as any of the people. In fact Staalesen has such a sense of place that the city comes to life and places the role of the protagonist itself –

Strandgaten is one of Bergen’s oldest streets. From one century to the next, it has wound its way from Torgallmenningen to Nordnes….

A more pretty side to Nordnes - image courtesy of Wikipedia
A more pretty side to Nordnes – image courtesy of Wikipedia

You can basically take this book and allow it to guide yourself around Bergen itself –

Strandgaten, is where the private eye’s office is situated for example and there is a now a life-size sculpture of the long-haired detective there for readers and newcomers to see the man for themselves. Talk about the book coming to life!

 

The man himself standing in his doorway in Bergen
The man himself standing in his doorway in Bergen

 

I sauntered down the stairs and back into the most sterile part of Strandgaten. In the quarter between Nykirken Chuch and Tollbodallmenningen there was little to feat your eyes on apart from the sale at the vinmonopel on the opposite side…

 

Another cultural viewpoint is just around the corner –

 

Edvard Grieg  - image courtesy of Wikipedia
Edvard Grieg – image courtesy of Wikipedia

A plaque on the wall beyond announced that Edvard Grieg’s childhood home was here..

Edvard Grieg was a Norwegian composer and pianist who died in 1907

 

Cold Hearts portrays the streets vividly. Its sense of place are used to maximum effect when talking about the red light area –

In the 1950s and 60s, the most obvious signs of street activity were in Strandgaten. After the number of cars increased and the circle of clients became more mobile, business moved out further to Nordnes, to C. Sundts gate, where there is still an abundance of freelance working girls to be seen from early after noon to late at night.

But the contrast of the more pleasant side of Bergen soon returns with descriptions from Varg as he wanders the streets on his way to a meeting –

Ludvig Holberg - a writer and philosopher - image courtesy of Wikipedia
Ludvig Holberg – a writer and philosopher – image courtesy of Wikipedia
The fish market - not all of the blood and gore comes from the gutted fish..
The fish market – not all of the blood and gore comes from the gutted fish..

 

I crossed the fish market before the Narvesen kiosk had opened. On Vagsallmenning a copper green Ludvig Holberg stood steadfastly staring north west.

http://www.visitbergen.com/en/attractions/Most-popular/?TLp=179000&Fish-Market-in-Bergen=

 

Then back to the gritty reality –

Bergen’s Outreach Centre is located in Stromgaten, across the street from the stately old Lysverket building.

In fact many of Bergen’s most popular places to visit are listed in the Visit Bergen website. Of course here you will see a much more pleasant side to the city….

http://www.visitbergen.com/en/attractions/Most-popular/

 

The translation is by the excellent Don Bartlett. He is well known in Translator circles for having worked with Jo Nesbø and Per Petterson amongst others. It’s largely thanks to him that English readers can now read Cold Hearts and enter a world of the gritty realism of Norway’s backstreets.

The translator plays a crucial role in widening an author’s readership and Gunnar Staalesen, thanks to the skill of Don Bartlett can be asssured that the sense and emotion of his book is deftly handled.

This is a gritty, cold hard world that you now are entering but it’s an interesting one…

If you have not discovered Scandinavian crime fiction or think you have read them all, pick up Cold Hearts and you will see something you have never seen before.