Bitter Flowers by Gunnar Staalesen tr. Don Bartlett #excerpt #BitterFlowers #VargVeum #NordicNoir #ChillingWinterReads #RandomThingsTours

Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where it is my absolute pleasure to share with you an excerpt from Bitter Flowers! Check out my review here if you missed it the first time around.

Many thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour, and to Orenda Books for the excerpt.

Let’s have a quick look at the blurb first:

Fresh from rehab, Norwegian PI Varg Veum faces his most complex investigation yet, when a man is found drowned, a young woman disappears, and the case of a missing child is revived. The classic Nordic Noir series continues…
PI Varg Veum has returned to duty following a stint in rehab, but his new composure and resolution are soon threatened when a challenging assignment arrives on his desk.
A man is found dead in an elite swimming pool and a young woman has gone missing. Most chillingly, Varg Veum is asked to investigate the ‘Camilla Case’: an eight-year-old cold case involving the disappearance of a little girl, who was never found.
As the threads of these apparently unrelated crimes come together, against the backdrop of a series of shocking environmental crimes, Varg Veum faces the most challenging, traumatic investigation of his career.

Ready? Okay, grab your bags, we’re going to Norway!

We arrived at the house. Hamre muttered, ‘We never get anywhere with the sort of people who own houses like this. Because we always end up on the phone, talking to some journalist who feels obliged to interrogate us about police violence.’

‘You sound bitter, Hamre.’

‘How do you reckon you’d sound if you’d worked for the last ten years in what from the outside resembles a travelling funfair?’

‘And from the inside?’

‘A nuthouse. We can hardly bend over to tie our shoelaces in a public place for fear that someone will call it police violence.’

‘No smoke without fire, Hamre.’

‘There’s never been a hint of a conflagration, Veum.’

Hamre nodded to one of the constables. ‘Sæve, you stay here by the door. Don’t let anyone in … or out.’

The constable nodded. He had the proportions of a bouncer, and a midge wouldn’t have got through the doorway while he was there.

We went in. Hamre’s mood didn’t improve at the sight of the hallway, and when we entered the steppe dollar signs and question marks appeared in his eyes. ‘Who did you say these people were?’


He nodded, as though I had confirmed his worst fears. ‘Architects and dentists.’

‘Where’s the body?’ Isachsen asked impatiently.

‘Through that door over there and downstairs.’

‘And what were you doing here, Veum?’

I looked at Hamre. ‘I’ll explain everything.’

He nodded and glared at Isachsen disapprovingly.

We walked down to the swimming pool in single file and the ‘wows’ grew in volume, as if a group was being shown around and had just spotted the architects’ private national park.

The body was lying where I had left it. No one had started to prepare it for taxidermy. Yet.

He was on his back and staring up at the ceiling as though it was all too much for him. This time I noticed something I hadn’t seen before: the shadow of bruising under the stubble on his chin.

Hamre knelt down professionally beside the dead man and did what I had done: searched for the pulse that didn’t exist. At the same time, he peered up at me. ‘Have you any idea who he is?’

‘Never seen him before.’

‘So, it’s not the architect then?’

I shrugged. ‘I haven’t seen him, either. But from what I’ve been told he’s in Spain with his wife. They work together.’

Hamre patted the man’s jacket. Then he put his hand in one of the pockets and took out a sodden wallet.

He opened it and extracted a driving licence. ‘Hm. Aslaksen. Tor. Born the fourteenth of the twelfth, forty-nine.’ He glanced from the photograph on the card to the dead man’s face. ‘Well, that’s that cleared up.’

He placed the wallet on the floor and stood up. ‘We’d better not do anything now until the experts have gone through the room with a fine-tooth comb.’ He pointed at one of the officers. ‘Will you contact forensics?’

The man nodded and was gone.

Hamre walked to the edge of the pool and looked down. ‘So he was lying on the bottom, eh?’


‘And it was you who found him?’


He turned to me with an enquiring expression.

‘The woman I mentioned. Lisbeth Finslo. She fo—’

He raised a hand with a tired flourish. ‘We’ll do this upstairs … in the lounge.’

Before leaving, he cast his eyes around the room one more time while slowly shaking his head. ‘I haven’t seen anything like this since I went to the university museum with the kids. What must it have felt like to splash around in here?’

‘Do you know Theodor Kittelsen’s painting of the Nix?’ I said, leading the way up the stairs.

Ready to join Veum upstairs to discuss the case? Not a problem: Bitter Flowers is available now, order it directly from Orenda Books here

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