Monday, October 26, 2009

Varg Veum: Fallen Angels

A new Varg Veum film, Falne Engler/Fallen Angels, from the crime fiction series by Gunnar Staalesen, ran last week on MhZ Networks in the U.S., in wide screen (so perhaps this one ran first as a theatrical release before its life on TV). The movie starts out not with Veum but with a police investigation by Inspector Hamre, the detective that is Veum's friend/adversary, after a young woman is discovered hanged in her parents home, an apparent suicide. Veum is first seen re-entering the country through a Norwegian airport (after an investigation took him to Poland), having his belongings inspected by customs: including a pair of pulp-noir novels by Mickey Spillane and the now-almost-forgotten Brett Halliday (pen name of Davis Dresser). Veum is hired by an old friend, now a Norwegian rock star, to find out if his wife is cheating on him. After other murders by hanging, the police treat the original suicide as a murder, and Veum becomes involved professionally and emotionally. The plot is complicated, with a final twist that reveals the murderer but also changes the complexion of the whole story quite effectively. There's a bit of the Antonioni film Blowup in the plot and the style, as Varg inspects his surveillance photos from his infidelity case and revisits a crime scene, a villa on a fjord. Norway and Bergen are a bit more appealing here than in some of the other Varg Veum films, and the plot quite effective (children, as usual, play more of a role than in some crime stories, though not in the way a Veum fan might expect). My copy of the newly translated Staalesen novel, The Henchmen of Death, has been delayed (some reviews have already appeared on-line, making me jealous and anxious to receive my copy)--it will be the first Veum novel that I've read since the films started to appear, and it will be interesting to see how the films color my reading of this character, whose three previously translated outings I read some time ago.


Maxine Clarke said...

Sadly we can't get these movies/TV films in the UK. I have now read the three VV novels that are in English (old second-hand copy of no 2, and the recent editions of Writing on the Wall and Consorts of Death (maybe this is the US title - both are listed on Amazon but they are the same book. "Consorts" is better than "Henchman" in context, I think.) The other one that is translated, another old one, is only availabe in English at £39 so I am not going to get that one.

I enjoyed "Consorts of Death" the most of the three. I hope you like it as much as I did. The writing, and the character, have matured a lot since the second book (Yours Until Death) in which there is too much expository dialogue and too much detailed self-analysis by VV of his own past and of what is going on all the time (in my opinion). The pacing is much better in the new book.

cynic63 said...

We are lucky as french readers: we have already 9 novels that are translated. I read all of them and my favourite one is :"Fallen angels".
See you

Glenn Harper said...

cynic64: You're lucky--you also have more of the current crime fiction from Iceland in French than we have in English (maybe I should brush up my high-school French). Fallen Angels also made a pretty good movie, in the Varg Veum TV series.