The single-mother families of the isolated community under the shadow of the Pyderhorn, Bergen's greatest mountain, are being terrorised by a teenage gang. But teenage violence is nothing compared to what awaits detective Varg Veum when he gets to know the blue-eyed Wenche Andersen. First published in Norwegian in 1979, it was described by the critic Nils Nordberg as 'one of the finest, most serious, most ambitious books in post-war Norwegian crime writing'.
Fans of contemporary noir will welcome Staalesen's superior second entry, first published in Norway in 1979, in his series featuring Bergen PI Varg Veum (The Consorts of Death, etc.). Roar Andresen, an eight-year-old boy, needs Veum's help in retrieving a stolen bike from a group of teenage thugs. Among the victims of the gang, whose members have operated with impunity for some time, is the mother of a friend of Roar's, whom they sexually assaulted when she confronted them. After Veum resolves the bicycle issue, the criminals, led by a 19-year-old known as Joker, kidnap Roar. The gumshoe ends up at the scene of a murder, finding himself in the odd position of serving as the alibi for the most likely suspect. Staalesen's mastery of pacing enables him to develop his characters in a leisurely way without sacrificing tension and suspense.