BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Essence Of Evil – by Rob Sinclair #blogtour #TheEssenceOfEvil @HeraBooks @canelo_co @Tr4cyF3nt0n

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Essence Of Evil blog tour! A huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. There was just something about this story that caught my eye immediately (serial killer twin!!) and I couldn’t wait to read this title.  And it was without doubt a thrilling ride… Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!


Title: The Essence Of Evil
Author: Rob Sinclair
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 12th 2019
Publisher: Canelo Hera
Finished reading: September 3rd 2019
Pages: 396

“All humans are the same. We’re all made of the same stuff, and deep down every single one of us is a potential killer.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Canelo Hera in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I admit that I was sold as soon as I read the blurb. I mean, a crime thriller with a detective lead that has a serial killer twin? How can I say no to that?! You guessed right, I simply couldn’t. If you, like myself, have that weird obsession with serial killer thrillers, you will be in for a treat with this first installment of a new detective series. This story will keep you on your toes and will have you biting your nails as you keep turning those pages to discover what is really going on… Both the murder case and the main lead’s personal background are simply fascinating.

So what makes The Essence Of Evil such a successful start of a new series? I already gave you a few hints, but I think our new lead DI Dani Stephens deserves to be named first. Why? While it’s true that she at first glance might seem to be like the typical damaged detective lead, there is a whole lot more to her character. Likeable or not, there is no doubt that she is a fascinating character and one of the reasons The Essence Of Evil worked so well for me. Because Dani isn’t just a detective with a serial killer twin. Oh no, that same twin actually tried to kill her and she only just survived… Spending the next two years of her life trying to recover from the brain injury that almost killed her. Chapters set in the present are mixed with diary style entries taking place during those two years. They show us just how hard it is to recover from serious brain injuries, not only for the victims but also for those around them. I could personally really appreciate this psychological aspect of the story, as it’s not something you read about every day.

Likewise, it was intriguing to read about Dani’s return to work and how she reacts to both her co-workers and the murder case that is thrown at her the very first day she returns. Dani is desperate to go back to work and prove herself, but is she truly ready? It was interesting to see this aspect of the plot evolve as well as how the case affects Dani’s personal life. Because this isn’t just another murder investigation. Dani’s personal life plays a considerable role throughout the plot, and not just in the flashbacks and her twin brother. We also see it in her road to recovery, the things that happen to her during the investigation and the dynamics with the other members of the team. I personally enjoyed this different focus as it gave another refreshing touch to The Essence Of Evil.

Next up is the plot. With flashbacks and an active present murder investigation, there is a lot going on and you can say that The Essence Of Evil has quite a complex plot. We have Dani’s brain injury recovery, we have the murder investigation and all its complications and subplots… All woven together with a healthy dose of suspense, plot twists and plain old action. The slower flashbacks are nicely balanced with superfast action scenes, thus appealing to a wider reading audience. The writing is easy on the eye and really makes you fly through those pages… With so many twists and unanswered questions, The Essence Of Evil is one of those books you will have a hard time putting down before you know all the answers.

Did you guess already that I really enjoyed this book? Between a fascinating new lead, the serial killer element, the brain injury recovery, interesting flashbacks and an intriguing murder mystery, there is no doubt that The Essence Of Evil is a promising start of a new series and one I can recommend to fans of the genre.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rob Sinclair is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemy series and James Ryker series of espionage thrillers. His books have sold over half a million copies to date with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob’s work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn.

Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.

Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons.

http://www.robsinclairauthor.com 


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ARC REVIEW: The Sleepover – by Carol Wyer @bookouture

Title: The Sleepover
(Natalie Ward #4)

Author: Carol Wyer
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 5th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: August 21st 2019
Pages: 411

“Some days I wonder what on earth I’m doing. The world’s such a fucked-up place with millions of fucked-up individuals causing mayhem. We’re fighting a losing battle all the time.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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!! Happy publication day !!

I think most people know by now I’m a fan of Carol Wyer‘s books, as her detective thrillers seem to be a guarantee for an entertaining and thrilling ride. I still might prefer Robyn Carter a tiny bit more, but there is no doubt that Natalie Ward is a worthy contender. The Sleepover is already the fourth meeting with detective Natalie Ward and she is really growing on me despite initial reservations. I like the way she handles the investigations as well as the interactions with the rest of her team… I think this team work in general is what really makes the books work for me. The Sleepover is fast, thrilling and entertaining; without doubt another excellent addition to the series.The writing and plot development are more than solid and make it really easy to fly through this fourth installment. The plot will grab you straight away, and with its many twists, secrets and surprises you will find it difficult to stop reading before you discover the truth about it all. More and more secrets and lies are slowly untangled, still leaving you with more questions than answers as you try to solve the puzzle along with Natalie Ward and her team. It makes for an engaging and compelling read, and any fan of the detective thriller genre will have a great time reading it. Natalie’s personal story evolved a lot this time around as well, and I really hope she will stick with her final decision in the next book… Fingers crossed!


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BOOK REVIEW: The Willow Woman – by Laurence Westwood #buddyread

Title: The Willow Woman
(Philip Ye #1)

Author: Laurence Westwood
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
First published: January 7th 2019
Publisher: Shikra Press
Finished reading: August 8th 2019
Pages: 440

“He plays the game very well. But anyone who thinks Philip Ye is not his own master is blind. As a friend I would never turn my back on him, as an enemy I would never underestimate him.”

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*** First of all I have to say thank you to Kelly for introducing me to The Willow Woman and hosting a giveaway a while back and to the author Laurence Westwood for sending me a wonderful signed copy!! ❤ This hasn’t influenced my opinion about this book. ***

It doesn’t matter that there is a whole ocean and thousands of kilometres between us, thanks to the wonder of Twitter Nicki (Jersey in the Channel Islands) and myself (Argentina) are always able to make our buddy reads work. With only a few hours time difference, it was easy to catch up, discuss what was happening in the story, guess what would happen next and of course share the necessary photos of both book and the obligatory dose of sugar we found ourselves needing occasionally. 😉 It was without doubt another successful buddy read!! Make sure to read Nicki’s review as well if you want to find out exactly why and if we felt the same about this story.

I was curious about The Willow Woman as soon as I first saw Kelly mention it on her blog. I’m always in for a good detective thriller and the fact that the story has a (for me) foreign setting is a huge bonus. I haven’t had the chance to read many stories set in China before, and The Willow Woman was therefore a little goldmine filled with local culture. Oh yes, this story will transport you right to Chengdu with excellently elaborated descriptions of both the setting and Chinese culture in general. Both the local culture as well as the spirituality play a very important role in the development of the plot and the plot twists you will encounter along the way. Especially the spirituality was a very interesting touch, with many references to the spirit world and main character Philip Ye actually asking the spirits of the deceased to help him with the case. His beliefs are then contrasted in Xu Ya, who seems more pragmatic and doesn’t seem to believe in the paranormal. The inclusion of both Chinese culture and the paranormal aspect without doubt gave this detective story an unique twist and made this story stand out for me.

Another thing you notice almost straight away is just how complex this story is, and in a good way. While it’s true that the sheer amount of characters can be intimidating in the beginning, The Willow Woman has a very helpful index to check who is who and how they are related when in doubt. Trust me, you will find the index very helpful especially in the first couple of chapters! It will make juggling all those different characters so much easier and allows you to properly enjoy the story from the beginning. This story isn’t just complex due to the amount of characters though. The Willow Woman has an abundance of storylines and different point of views to revel in. These are used to build the plot and plot twists brick by brick and help you keep guessing about what is really going on. While it’s true that I made certain predictions about for example the professor and the boy that ended up being true quiet early on, there were also a lot of twists I could have never guessed. The story was getting more intriguing, complicated and intense by the minute and we both had to ease the tension with a dose of sugar more than once… Never underestimate the power of cake!

As for the characters… While there are a lot of them, the ones that stood out most for me (and won over my heart almost straight away) were probably Philip Ye, Xu Ya, Fatty Deng, Ma and Mouse. Each is well developed and plays an important role in this story, although the role of some might not seem as important straight away. I’m not sure I agreed with certain decisions of some characters, including Xu’s actions towards the ending, but that was more me biting my nails and shouting ‘why would you do that?!‘ rather than a reason to enjoy the story less. You will have to ready yourself for some intense moments, especially towards the explosive ending! But I really liked how everything was wrapped up. I also really appreciated how references to the so-called Willow Woman were incorporated into the plot and how this element was ultimately explained.

In short, The Willow Woman is both excellently written and well constructed; the intricate plot, foreign setting with insights in Chinese culture and spirituality, abundance of characters and what you can roughly call a conspiracy angle making for a most fascinating read. If you are a fan of detective thrillers and are looking for a story with an unique twist, you should definitely schedule yourself a meeting with Philip Ye.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #116 – Dead Scared & The Archived

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different genres that both turned out to be winners. The Lacey Flint sequel Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton was a twisted and very intriguing read, and I just loved The Archived! Then again I’m a bit biased when it comes to Victoria Schwab‘s work haha. I can’t believe I still hadn’t started this series! I’ll be reading the sequel VERY soon.


Title: Dead Scared
(Lacey Flint #2)
Author: Sharon Bolton

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 5th 2012
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Finished reading: August 1st 2019
Pages: 384

“There are times when just waking up can feel like the hardest thing anyone could ever ask you to do. The first morning after your child has died, perhaps. Or after the man you adore has walked out. You would give anything, certainly the rest of your life, to stay down in the darkness of not knowing.”


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I had my first encounter with Lacey Flint two years ago and while I didn’t manage to warm up to her character then, I’ve been meaning to read the sequel ever since as I thought the series had a lot of promise. I’m glad I finally picked up Dead Scared, because I ended up loving it! It’s been too long since I read the first book to make a proper comparison, but based on my general feelings I can say this book is without doubt stronger than the first book. What a plot! What a disturbing and twisted situation Lacey finds herself in! The writing is engaging and makes you turn the pages at hyperspeed, but it is the plot that is the true star of Dead Scared. The whole situation with the bad dreams, the creepy things happening to the characters and the suicides without doubt chilled me to the bone. The plot was very cleverly contructed, complex and filled with twists to keep you guessing about the full scope of the situation. There are a lot of twisted and disturbing scenes included in Dead Scared, and trigger warnings are in place for abuse, rape, violence, mental health and suicide among other elements. This story is definitely not fit for those with a weak stomach! But if you think you can manage, Dead Scared will attack you both with psychological terror and disturbing action scenes that will leave you feeling uneasy and looking over your shoulder. I really loved the undercover angle and the psychological aspect of this story as well! In short, Dead Scared is without doubt a very twisted and disturbing read, and literally stuff made out of nightmares. I’m curious to see if book three will be able to live up to this book!


Title: The Archived
(The Archived #1)
Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: January 22nd 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Finished reading: August 1st 2019
Pages: 336

“Because the only way to truly record a person is not in words, not in still frames, but in bone and skin and memory.”


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I think most of you will know by now that Victoria Schwab is one of my absolute favorite authors and I still can’t explain it to myself why I haven’t started this series before. It’s true that The Archived is one of her earlier series and not as widely known as some of her other books, but it is without doubt one worth discovering. I’m still kicking myself for not reading The Archived sooner! This first book is a mix of contemporary with paranormal fantasy and I personally really liked the balance of the story. Elements as family, death, grief and moving on in the real or ‘Outer’ world are mixed with a fantasy setting we can find in the Narrows and The Archive. Main character Mackenzie Bishop is able to show us the different worlds and their meaning through her job as a Keeper. She was an interesting character and I enjoyed seeing her develop over time and handle the mystery and escalating situation as in the plot. I loved the idea behind the worldbuilding and its symbolism and the setting in the converted hotel added an eery atmosphere to the story… And the writing is just as brilliant as ever. I’m definitely going to read the sequel VERY soon!


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BOOK REVIEW: Block 46 – by Johana Gustawsson @Orendabooks

Title: Block 46
(Emily Roy & Alexis Castells #1)

Author: Johana Gustawsson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 21st 2016
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: July 26th 2019
Pages: 300
(Originally written in French: ‘Block 46’)

“Whatever she did, the words were dislodged by her thoughts; like a swarm of bees hounded from their hive, they scattered erratically, unable to organise themselves.”


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It’s been three weeks since I finished reading Block 46 and I’m still struggling to get a word on paper. Oh yes, such is the power of this story! After multiple recommendations and reading fantastic reviews about both Block 46 and Keeper, I knew I could not go wrong with this series and I’ve been meaning to pick it up for quite some time now. I think the only reason I hesitated was that I knew I was going to be blown away and that it would be impossible to write a decent review afterwards… Guess what? That is EXACTLY what happened! Even three weeks later, I’m still recovering from the shock of this brilliant and harrowing read, but the time has come to stop procrastinating and try getting something constructive on paper. I do have a copy of Keeper waiting for me I want to read before the blog tour for Blood Song starts next month after all…

The first thing that stands out is that Block 46 is basically a combination of two of my favorite genres: historical fiction and crime fiction. Having both genres merged so beautifully and successfully was a huge bonus for me, as well as the fact that I have a weak spot for WWII stories and the chapters set in Buchenwald were both harrowing and fascinating at the same time. I’ve read my share of WWII fiction, and I truly believe Johana Gustawsson describes and developes the events in the Buchenwald concentration camp thoroughly and realistically. Shocking, gut-wrenching and definitely not for the weak-hearted, but then again the Holocaust was no picnic in the first place. The WWII flashbacks are expertly incorporated into the plot and give us background information as well as a possible explanation about what is happening in the present. They give this crime thriller an unique touch and really enhanced the reading experience for me.

Another thing I loved was the setting: I have a weak spot foreign settings and having part of the present story set in Sweden was a huge bonus for me. Descriptions of both London and Sweden setting were again thorough and really made both places come alive for me. I loved the references to Swedish culture and customs and it gave Block 46 another unique touch. Likewise, I found it to be really easy to connect to the main characters of this story. I’ve become an instant fan of Emily Roy and Alexis Castells, their character development well crafted and realistic and making me root for them as they try to get to the bottom of what is going on. I love that instead of having the typical detective leads, we have a profiler (Emily Roy) and a true-crime writer (Alexis Castells) instead. Talk about an interesting combination! The other characters were likewise well developed and I always love it when we get to glimpse inside the head of a serial killer.

The writing is beautiful and combined with the pace and plot I found myself to be fully absorbed in the story from the very first chapter. The structure of the plot is complex, with multiple POVs and flashbacks, adding to the richness of Block 46 and really taking this story to the next level. This story has also quite a few surprises for you in store; certain developments you definitely won’t see coming and will leave you with your mouth hanging wide open. The suspense is well present and Block 46 definitely ends with a bang! This first book of what I already know will be a very successful series for me is a beautifully written and harrowing read, and 200% worth your time. If you enjoy unique crime thrillers and haven’t met Emily Roy and Alexis Castells yet, now is the time to change that… Go get a copy! Trust me, you won’t regret it.


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ARC REVIEW: Her Silent Cry – by Lisa Regan @bookouture

Title: Her Silent Cry
(Detective Josie Quinn #6)

Author: Lisa Regan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 14th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 24th 2019
Pages: ?

“Every one of us goes through our days looking straight at people and things but not really taking them in.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve been a fan of this series ever since I read the first book about eighteen months ago. With each new meeting with Detective Josie Quinn, my love for this series is only reconfirmed all over again and each book brings the promise of yet another intense and suspenseful ride. Her Silent Cry is no exception to the rule, and already the sixth successful installment of this detective series. Want to know why?

First of all, the simple fact of being able to meet up with some of your favorite characters again is always a fantastic feeling. Josie Quinn and her team managed to win over my heart from the start, and with each new story it feels as if you are meeting up again with old friends. You can see their characters develop over time, the events of the different books leaving its mark on their characters as well as the dynamics between them. While it’s true you can technically read Her Silent Cry as a stand-alone with only minor loss of background information, you will miss out on references to the past and might not fully get the dynamics between the different characters. And with the first five books all being thrilling and intense rides, there’s no excuse not to catch up with the past before diving into the newest Detective Josie Quinn!

In Her Silent Cry you will find new developments relating to the personal life of Josie Quinn, and that part of the storyline definitely left me wanting for more! Josie, Noah, Gretchen and even Misty and Trinity play a role throughout the story, although the main focus is on the new case that started developing right under Josie’s nose. It’s a missing child this time around, and a case that turns out to be a lot more sinister and complicated than you might think when little Lucy first goes missing… The little chapters with nameless characters give you a hint, but you’ll find yourself wondering how everything actually connects as you keep turning those pages and things are getting more and more critical. A fast pace is combined with a suspenseful and twisted plot filled with secrets and turns and together they will make the intensity level go through the roof. Josie Quinn and her team are finding themselves in a race against the clock, desperately trying to find Lucy alive and stop more people from getting hurt… But things are not that simple as certain people seem to be hiding crucial information that could potentially help them get Lucy back. As always, you might wonder about the credibility of certain aspects of the plot, but I myself was too busy flying through the pages and enjoying myself to really stand still by that. If you are a fan of intense and thrilling detective thrillers that pack a punch, you should definitely schedule yourself a meeting with Detective Josie Quinn soon!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Wolves At The Door – by Gunnar Staalesen #blogtour #RandomThingsTours #WolvesAtTheDoor #VargVeum #NordicNoir @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my little stop of the Wolves At The Door Random Things blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been meaning to plan a meeting with Varg Veum for a long time now, and when I was invited to the blog tour I saw it as a sign I should no longer pospone it. I’m definitely kicking myself for waiting this long to meet him now! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts on Wolves At The Door.

Title: Wolves At The Door
(Varg Veum #21)
Author: Gunnar Staalesen
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 13th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: June 10th 2019
Pages: 276
(Originally published in Norwegian:’Utenfor er hundene’)

“Someone was lying to me, and one thing was sure: in such cases as this I seldom gave up until I found out who it was. And why.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Anne Cater and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I think one problem all of us book bloggers have to face is the fact that there are so many fantastic sounding series and books out there and hardly enough time to even make a dent into the pile of unread priority titles. Meeting Varg Veum has been on my to-do list for a long long time now, but somehow other books always got in the way… I think the first time this Nordic Noir series appeared on my radar was with the publication of book number eighteen, Where Roses Never Die, back in 2017. While I prefer reading a series in order, with each publication fellow book bloggers kept promising the books can be read quite satisfactory as a standalone as well. So when I was invited for the blog tour for Wolves At The Door, I decided to jump in the deep end and finally meet Varg Veum without further excuses. (And let’s face it, there was no way I would be able to find time to read the first twenty books and catch up in the first place.)

Wolves At The Door is already the twenty first installment of the Varg Veum series, but as I was promised with the previous books, the story works really well as a standalone as well. The only thing that is bound to happen is that you, like myself, will be left wanting to spend more time with a new favorite character and end up reading the previous books anyway as soon as you can find time for them… Because such is the power of Varg Veum. I can understand why this series has been going on for as long as it has, because Varg Veum is a force to reckon with. He is one of those characters that I connected to immediately and profoundly. As soon as you read the first chapter, he feels familiar and it’s as if you have known him for ages already. His description, his way of seeing the world, his attitude, the way he speaks, reacts and deducts information from what he learns along the way, his humor… Meeting Varg Veum was like seeing an old friend again after a long time apart, knowing you won’t let him slip this easily from your life again now he’s back in the picture. I don’t often feel a connection this strong to a character after such a short time, but consider me officially on #TeamVargVeum from now on.

Varg Veum is not the only thing that makes Wolves At The Door into such a success for me. A lot of it had to do with both the writing style itself and the many detailed descriptions making the cold Nordic setting truly come alive. I haven’t had the chance to visit Norway yet, but I feel like I really got to know Bergen and its surroundings while reading Wolves At The Door. The detailed descriptions of not only the setting, but also the characters added a lot of dept to what was already an intriguing plot and gave the story a ominous and sinister atmosphere. The writing itself is excellent; we have the wonderful translation by Don Bartlett to thank for that, because we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this Nordic Noir gem otherwise. While the pace is slower in especially the first half of the story, it never really slowed me down as I saw it as an opportunity to get to know Varg Veum and other key characters better. The writing style and humor was spot on for me and I’ve become an instant fan of Gunnar Staalesen‘s work. As things are getting more heated for Varg Veum, the pace as well as the suspense pick up… Making you move towards the edge of your seat while you keep your fingers crossed everything will work out in the end.

Wolves At The Door deals with a very difficult topic, one that is trigger warning worthy: child abuse. An emotionally harrowing topic and very hard to write or read about, but I feel that Gunnar Staalesen has tackled the subject in an honorable and realistic way. It doesn’t make it easier to read about both the past case (I imagine has been discussed in the previous book I can’t wait to read now) and the new discoveries our main character Varg Veum makes as he follows his intuition… But it justifies going down that road and explore such a sensitive theme. The story will probably provoke strong emotions though, and you will definitely feel anger towards certain characters and events before you reach the final page. Of course, it’s always a good sign a story is able to make you feel such strong emotions in the first place… And there is no doubt whatsoever that Wolves At The Door is a brilliant piece of Nordic Noir and a harrowing story that will touch even those with the coldest heart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Gunnar Staalesen was born in
Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with
Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg
Veum series. He is the author of over twenty-three titles, which have been
published in twenty-six countries and sold over five million copies. Twelve film
adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring
the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, and a further series is
currently being filmed. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including
the Prize of Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA
Dagger, lives in Bergen with his wife.


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