Book Reviews

#OrendaMonth Book 4: Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen @OrendaBooks


Here comes another review! I feel I’ve been writing plenty of them when it fact it is only the fourth! I’ve experienced a bit with the format of my reviews in March but now it’s Lazy Saturday Review time!


From Lipsyy : I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

where roses never dieTitle: Where Roses Never Die
Author: Gunnar Staalesen
Translator: Don Bartlett
Publisher: Orenda Books
First date of publication: 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy
Number of pages: 285
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

September 1977. Mette Misvær, a three-year-old girl, disappears without trace from the sandpit outside her home. Her tiny, close middle-class community in the tranquil suburb of Nordas is devastated, but their enquiries and the police produce nothing. Curtains twitch, suspicions are raised, but Mette is never found. Almost 25 years later, as the expiration date for the statute of limitations draws near, Mette’s mother approaches PI Varg Veum, in a last, desperate attempt to find out what happened to her daughter. As Veum starts to dig, he uncovers an intricate web of secrets, lies and shocking events that have been methodically concealed. When another brutal incident takes place, a pattern begins to emerge. Chilling, shocking and full of extraordinary twists and turns, Where Roses Never Die reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost crime thriller writers.


Sometimes, all you need is a good one whodunit in the form of a cold case and an investigation done the good old way.

The title attracted me first. Where Roses Never Die; poetic, tragic, and beautiful. Then the cover made me quiver with its cold colors. The mix definitely catches the eye and intrigues.

That’s what the book is about: an intrigue. Poor Mette disappeared from a sandpit decades ago and as the case is about to get closed for good, her mother needs answers. PI are usually interesting to follow, and Varg Veum is definitely one of my favorites now. Yes, he has issues. Yes, he has a heavy background, but his way of thinking and his reactions make him so authentic. He is no super-hero or anti-hero, he is a scarred man with a long past and bills to pay. From the start, I felt comfortable with him. My only complaint is that Where Roses Never Die is the 18th book in a series so there are holes in Veum’s story that get mentioned in the story with no explanation, which is very frustrating when you like a character and enjoy having all the answers! This did not prevent me from falling for the guy and root for him, though! I only wished all books had been translated to meet Veum at the beginning of his journey and go all the way through, but it seems only a few stories are available in English.

I liked that the police were involved, but only at the outskirts of the investigation. They weren’t just missing, this added to the frightening realism of the story. PI often are retired cops and their links in the force is always useful to solve cases. Between the police’s help, sometimes granted, sometimes forced, and the good old work of questioning, Veum digs up more than he expected and what seemed to be a simple missing-child case turns into a Desperate Housewives-like tower of secrets and a dangerous game of guessing. The “neighborood” of the disappearance of the child gave me such a strong claustrophobic feeling I promised myself to never let anyone make me settle in such a place! Thankfully, we also get to travel and see more of the country. I must say I am beginning to really like the cold!

“Nothing is more fatal to a marriage than something both partners know, but neither will talk about.”

With its seemingly easy investigation, Where Roses Never Die surprised me with an easy-flowing writing and more twists that I was hoping for! Layers are added faster than lies leave lips and the list of suspects gives you enough to work with to keep you wondering until the shocking end. And I mean it, shocking end. Where Roses Never Die is a Classic Crime story with a big C: a story that plays with your mind in the best way possible! I know I often make classic rhyme with boring but this time I mean it as a compliment: every key element of the true crime book is here, ready to satisfy even the most seasoned crime readers!

I would like to thank Karen Sullivan for providing me with a copy of this book. This review is my unbiased thank you to her and the author.

You can get the book in your favorite bookstore, on Amazon, or on the Orenda Books’ ebookstore

33 thoughts on “#OrendaMonth Book 4: Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen @OrendaBooks”

  1. Sound a like another fab orenda read. They must be hugely popular if it’s the 18th book. It’s Scandinavian isn’t it? I remember you saying you liked a few books from here.
    I like how you compare it to desperate housewives in the weaves of secrets and lies. And I love shocking ends. Sounds like a thrilling read.


    1. The books are set in Norway, and I am loving every Nordic story I’ve read so far. There’s something special about them 🙂
      The neighborhood setting is so claustrophobic and unsettling, I love it when seemingly peaceful places hide the ugliest lies 🙂 xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love classic crime stories and your lazy reviews, which are better than my normal reviews hahaha And that thing about Desperate Housewives…color me interested!!


    1. Well, it’s more of a thriller, there’s no real crime as it’s an old case and it’s mainly an investigation in the old way, without DNA, frantic chases and all 🙂


      1. Ah! Well, that’s interesting then. Maybe I should check it out after all. I did read “The American Girl” and loved it after all, and that’s similar (that’s also a crazy twisted story like that, where you will get so mixed up you’ll change your mind 5 times about who did what even)


  3. Love the quote you picked out- brilliant! And I agree with the cover- it looks chilling but classy at the same time. Boom… Going by your review this book is just perfect isn’t it? Lovable character, tons of twisty layers and an explosive ending- what more could a bookworm want? 🙂


  4. Great review for this book Donna. 🙂 It sounds like a classic crime novel just from your review, something which has all the tropes but still turns them into an engaging story with twists to keep you on your toes. I’m really glad to see you enjoyed this book, I agree with you the title is really eye-catching (or ear-catching I guess). Definitely makes me think this will be a tragic book, especially paired with that cover.


  5. As always another great review Donna! I have this one and actually read about 30% and then got sidetracked with a different one and never picked it back up. I did like it although I found it to be a little slow. I love that you said it has a shocking ending so I’ll be getting back to this for sure


    1. It is on the slower side, although I did find it suited the story perfectly 🙂 The back and forth between all the questioning and the glimpses into Varg Veum’s life kept me interested 😀 The ending was shocking to me as I did not see it coming and found it… horrifying, now I hope I haven’t sold the book the wrong way because you might not be so shocked, haha!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Excited to hear you liked it this much! I already had my eye on this one and I’ve just added it to my wishlist. The promise of twists and turns and especially a shocking end makes me very curious! Excellent review for this one again!


    1. The ending did come as a shock to me but I’m starting to wonder if everyone else might agree, hahahah! Well, we’ll have to see what you have to say about it! Still, it’s a strong story and the writing flows so well it makes up for the kinda slow pace at times.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. wow! 18th huh and not all translated? While this sounds like a great read, I do not think that little part of my brain that has to have everything so so could do it! I am a “must start from the beginning” kind of gal 😉

    I love how you call these “lazy” reviews and they have more depth and insight than so many I stumble across on a regular basis. XoXo ❤


    1. I know!!! I am like this too, but I have fallen for the main character, despite his flaws, and I just NEED to know more about him. I’ll read the other book in the series published by Karen and I’m hoping to find some of the previous ones.
      Aw, that’s so sweet of you to say ❤ xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great review! This is definitely another one for my wishlist even though it’s the 18th book of a series. I love good PI stories and this one sounds fascinating!


    1. It’s somehow a bit slow, like all good old questioning investigations, but it’s real good 🙂 I am not a big fan of slow-burners but this one has just the right pace!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Ohhh great review! I would really hate to fall on a book that is the 18th of a series about a particular character’s story. It’s something you see a lot from some of the big name crime authors (like.. I want to start reading Poirot’s stories but I only got my hands on like #19 and #31 or whatever). I’m glad you were still able to enjoy this and liked the PI in this one! Do you plan on checking out his first adventures and continue the series in the future?

    – Lashaan


    1. I was a bit taken aback when I realized it was the 18th book, I admit it, but the book was so compelling that I decided to give it a go anyway and I don’t regret it! I am soooooo trying to get all the series and IN ORDER!!! 😀 I just fell for the MC and I am so curious about what happens to him. Plus, the writing and the old school investigations are just so relaxing while making my brain look for hints and culprits!

      Liked by 1 person

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