We Shall Inherit the Wind – Gunnar Staalesen

First, it appears this author is a giant of detective fiction in his native Norway. He gets lots of praiseworthy quotes comparing him to Mankell, Chandler, and so on. That set my expectations to a high level. Broadly speaking, these expectations were not met.

The story is that Varg Veum, private investigator, is asked to look into the disappearance of a businessman. From that assignment, Veum is thrown into the struggle – for and against – the expansion of wind power in a part of Norway, with family woes, corporate struggles, and local authority corruption, all mixed up in a toxic cocktail, guaranteeing there will be one or more bodies to deal with before the tale is over. And so it proves.

So, it’s a detective story whodunnit with an environmental theme.

The Norwegian backdrop is also a major player in the atmospheric setting, and sometimes I felt the author was better at that than he was at handling dialogue. However, that might just be grumpy old me. Certainly Veum’s inner reflections were of varying (literary) quality, and often left me cold.

The plot has its share of twists and surprises, though they vary in quality.

The main character is OK, but the supporting cast is straight out of a supermarket warehouse: cardboard, cardboard, and more cardboard.

The opening chapter does hook you in, but the somewhat lackluster prose lets you slip away all too easily. I was past caring about the characters before too long. A shame, as the premise was good enough, and there was potential for a real chiller.

I doubt this is the author’s best book. It would be difficult to believe all that praise was for something that was quite good, but not brilliant. (I certainly hope not.) I am in two minds about whether to go any further with the author. Regrettably, I cannot recommend it.