We Shall Inherit The Wind – Gunner Staalesen
1998. Varg Veum sits by the hospital bedside of his long-term girlfriend Karin, whose life-threatening injuries provide a deeply painful reminder of the mistakes he’s made. Investigating the seemingly innocent disappearance of a wind-farm inspector, Varg Veum is thrust into one of the most challenging cases of his career, riddled with conflicts, environmental terrorism, religious fanaticism, unsolved mysteries and dubious business ethics. Then, in one of the most heart-stopping scenes in crime fiction, the first body appears…
A chilling, timeless story of love, revenge and desire, We Shall Inherit the Wind deftly weaves contemporary issues with a stunning plot that will leave you gripped to the final page. This is Staalesen at his most thrilling, thought-provoking best.
I am delighted to have the opportunity to host the latest leg of the blog tour for the astonishing We Shall Inherit The Wind by Gunnar Staalesen. My thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for my review copy.
Varg Veum is a long established and much loved character yet this was my first introduction to him. I would very much like the opportunity to read more of Staalesen’s books (and Veum will return in two more books from Orenda in 2016 and 2017). As a ‘jumping on point’ I can assure other new readers that the author provides more than enough background to allow you to pick up and enjoy We Shall Inherit The Earth without the need to have read previous tales.
Not just my introduction to Varg Veum but my first introduction to Nordic crime fiction: I was more than pleasantly surprised. We Shall Inherit The Wind is a gripping read, a story which is driven by the strength of the characters and the lies they will tell to protect their secrets.
Veum is a private investigator. He has been engaged to trace a missing man, Mons Mæland, who has vanished just as an important discussion on a proposed wind-farm was due to take place. Mæland owns land upon which the wind-farm may be built and his contribution to the development is vital. This is the late 1990’s and harnessing the environmental energies is a developing and controversial area. While there is potential for significant money to be made there are objections to the proposed development and rival factions are soon introduced to the story.
Veum is searching for Mæland on behalf of Mæland’s second wife. Over 20 years previously Mæland’s first wife, Lea, disappeared and was declared dead after she failed to return from her morning trip to the shore. Lea’s children do not appear to have accepted Mæland’s choice of a second wife and they seem reluctant to assist Veum’s investigations, seemingly believing their father will soon return. Veum finds his enquiries stonewalled at every turn and I began to feel some frustration on his behalf, however events were soon to take a sudden and dramatic twist.
Mæland has been murdered, his body left posed in a way that suggests that extreme religious fervour may be involved. Veum’s missing person investigation is now a murder enquiry and the stakes are significantly raised.
The discovery of Mæland’s body brings to question the lengths that individuals and corporations may go to when chasing financial gain. We are given to consider the justification of environmental terrorism and personal sacrifice to save a landscape and a way of life.
Veum is a dogged investigator in pursuit of the truth and from the outset of the novel we know that his actions have consequences that will fall far too close to home. As he slowly unpicks the conflicting stories and unravels historic relationships, the reader is aware that his actions will result in the hospitalisation of Veum’s fiancée Karin. As much of We Shall Inherit The Wind is focused on Veum and Karin’s relationship it is a particularly bitter twist knowing that an innocent party will be caught up in the events we are reading about. By the time you reach the endgame you find yourself willing Veum to walk away…but if he had then we would have been robbed of a memorable finale!
We Shall Inherit The Wind is a story that needs to be read. Huge plaudits are due to Don Bartlett who translated the original novel from Norwegian and captured the beauty of Staalsen’s prose. Reading Inherit was a joy and (as my Norwegian is not too hot) I thank Don Bartlett for making it possible for me to enjoy this book.
If you have never read Nordic crime, or any translated fiction, then there are few better places to start.