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Big Sister

(Varg Veum #20)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  373 ratings  ·  82 reviews

Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office. A woman introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a 19-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her bedsit in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn't leave an address. She doesn't answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her c

Kindle Edition, 276 pages
Published April 20th 2018 by ORENDA BOOKS (first published August 2016)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A solid 4 stars.
Thanks to Trafalgar Square Publishing for sending me this eARC through NetGalley. I visited Bergen, Norway in 2009 and our guide recommended this series by Staalsen. I purchased the only book available in English The Writing on the Wall and enjoyed it. This book has Varg Veum taking a case from a half sister that he meets for the first time. She asks him to search for her missing goddaughter. His search leads him into an unsolved rape from many years before. There were several un
Bergen based investigator Varg Veum is at a stage in his life where nothing much surprises him. So when a new client introduces herself as his half sister, it’s almost enough to make a guy reach for the Aquavit.

After tracking him down, Norma Bakkevik wasted no time with small talk. She wants him to find her teenage god-daughter, Emma Haglund. She left a troubled home life & moved to Bergen several weeks ago but no one has heard from her since. Varg has many questions. About Emma….and about Norm
Whispering Stories
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Book Reviewed by Stacey on

Varg Veum is a private investigator. One afternoon he is visited by a woman, Norma, who explains to him that she is his half-sister who was given up for adoption before he was born. She is there because she is looking for her God-Daughter, Emma, and needs Varg’s services. She explains that the young woman was studying to be a nurse and moved out of her bedsit two weeks ago and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

Varg thinks that it will most l
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This title was read in paperback format. It is not listed here except as CD or ebook versions.

It was my serendipity read for the month of October. Sometimes they are a gem find, sometimes they are not. This one was not despite my being a fairly strong fan of Nordic who-dun-its of every genre tinge- be they milder or gritty dark.

This one was far, far overlong to the point of tedious. And the P.I. who is Varg is 61 years old. The big sister is 76 years old. So that tells you a little about the pas
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Even though this is part of a series, Big Sister works very well as a stand alone. I do advise reading the others also due to them being really great reads and wouldn't want anyone to miss out.

It was really good to meet up with Varg again. I was actually quite happy when his half sister turns up as thought it might bring something to his solitary lifestyle. Obviously being a crime book, someone just turning up out of the blue like that is going to bring a certain amount of mystery along with the
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Varg Veum is back and hoo boy, what a return it is!

Varg Veum is surprised when a half-sister he’s never met shows up in his office. She needs his help in finding her goddaughter, Emma, who disappeared without a trace. Since Emma is nineteen and took personal belongings with her, the police don’t take her case seriously and aren’t looking for her. Varg Veum promises to investigate but he has no idea what he’s getting himself in to.

The investigation leads him to uncover a horrific crime, while als
Kate~Bibliophile Book Club
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Having read and enjoyed the previous translated Varg Veum books, I was thrilled to be able to read Big Sister recently. Gunnar Staalesen is a masterful storyteller and I was eager to get reading.

In Big Sister, Veum finds out that he has a half-sister, Norma. The only reason he finds this out is because Norma turns up at his office needing his help in finding her missing goddaughter Emma. Emma has vanished from Bergen, and Norma figured this was as good a reason as any to track down her half-brot
Miriam Smith
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: orenda
Private Investigator Varg Veum is the bestselling series written by award winning Norwegian author Gunnar Staalesen and ‘Big Sister’ is the 20th book in this compelling and well written crime series.
When Varg receives a surprise visit in his office, a woman who introduces herself as his half-sister, he is shocked that she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a 19-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her apartment in Bergen two weeks ago and since then, no one has heard anything from
Laura Rash
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was quite like an old fashioned mystery that unfolded slowly with spurts of quick action thrown in so it never slowed to a lull in reading. I had a bit of trouble keeping up with all the names (I gave up trying to pronounce them) but that’s probably bc I’m an American.
Thanks to Orenda for this free copy:)
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just when you thought that wily private investigator Varg Veum’s personal life couldn’t get any more complicated, Staalesen illustrates once again his ability to stretch his character to almost breaking point. Grappling with ghosts of the past, and a particularly emotional and troublesome missing person case, Veum is tested to the limit in the course of this all too personal investigation…

It goes without saying that Staalesen consistently produces crime thrillers to the highest standard, and con
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The wolf is back! I was so pleased to be re-acquainted with Varg in Big Sister. He is a character I have a real soft spot for and I had eagerly awaited Gunnar Staalesen’s next book. And, oh boy, does Staalesen deliver again with the latest Veum instalment. While this is a long running series Big Sister does work as a standalone although I would highly recommend checking out the earlier books in the series.

When Varg is commissioned to look for the missing god-daughter of Norma Bakkevik, the case
Dimitris Passas (TapTheLine)
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gunnar Staalesen is one of the most successful Scandinavian crime fiction writers, some critics refer to him as the ''Norwegian Chandler'', and the creator of a legendary main character, Varg Veum. ''Big Sister'' is the twentieth (!) installment in the series which began in 1977 (''Das Haus mit der grünen Tür'') and Varg is now sixty-one years old while he is trying to solve a possible crime when a young college girl goes missing and nobody seems to know her whereabouts. This particular case has ...more
Susan Hampson
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: author-reads
This is my second Gunnar Staalesen book in this series and I am loving them. Varg Veum is a P.I. with a lot of experience behind him besides being a man who is pretty well a private bloke, so when a lady turns up and says she is his half-sister that he has never met, I think we were both a bit shocked. Norma’s teenage god-daughter Emma has gone missing and no-one seems to give a damn. Varg Veum sees it, on the surface, as what should be a straightforward case but his life is to get a whole lot m ...more
“In November, rain is the personification of gloom,”

This is the third Varg Veum novel I’ve read and I have to say each one is different from the last. With this one, Veum is surprised by a visit by his big sister who has a case for him. I was intrigued how the disappearance of Emma led Veum in so many different directions and gave him so much information, not all necessarily all related, about the past. I loved the personal journey that Veum went on when he ventured down one of his avenues of in
Karen Cole
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second Varg Veum book I have read, following last year's superb Wolves in the Dark. Varg seems less haunted by his demons in this latest instalment, he drinks less and doesn't seem as set on a path of self-destruction. Nevertheless the case he takes on leads him into great personal danger and also results in him making life-changing discoveries about his own past. His half-sister, Norma arrives at his office unexpectedly one day - though he was aware of her existence, the two had nev ...more
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-thrillers
Big Sister – Top Nordic Noir

Gunnar Staalesen is back and once again proving why he is regarded as one of the best Nordic Noir thriller on the scene. He is also is my favourite way of visiting Norway without having to put up with the cold weather and the darkness of a Norwegian winter. Big Sister is once again Staalesen at his sublime best, with all his darkness and throwing in a surprising twist when you think you have everything sorted out in your mind.

Varg Veum’s world has changed, well around
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Big Sister is the latest in the long running series to feature Varg Veum and is set in 2003. The case he has to solve is often chilling and a harsh reminder that some of the more murky side to society was an issue then as well. Many of the people he has to see don’t want to talk or are simply unable to. And some of them you really wouldn’t want to meet.
With this novel I felt like I got to know Varg more. There is the case he is trying to solve, which he does in his usual way. Mainly by annoying
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Private Investigator Varg Veum has more than the usual interest when taking on his new case. The woman who asks is his sister whom he has never met, so not only a chance to get to know her but also the possibility of finding out more about his family. His sister is concerned about the disappearance of her god-daughter.

This is yet another new to me author as I join in the Varg Veum series. Sometimes I think this is a good thing especially when the book works as a standalone, as this one does. It
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to preview this book. Only my second book in this series, but very enjoyable. Slow to get going, but a very good ending. Strongly recommended.
Meggy - Chocolate'n'Waffles
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Here I am. Sitting at my desk late at night on a Thursday. The way it should be to try and find the right words to express how each Varg Veum story is like good aquavit.

The first time someone offers a glass, you say no, thanks.
The second time, curiosity wins and you are charmed by the taste, although you cannot pinpoint why.
You make the third time happen by pouring it yourself. Once. Twice. And again. Soon it becomes an addiction.

Okay, maybe this is not my best metaphor!!! But this is how I see

Donna Hines
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
Three girls - one vanished, one missing literally overnight, one sure as hell isn't answering any questions.
Varg Veum is surprised on the job my his half sis Norma Johanne Bakkevik who offers him an offer he may not be able to refuse.
A 19 yo god daughter trainee nurse has gone missing after moving out of apartment.
Cover ups are involved, Internet stalkers are apparent, death may be imminent.
Wow! This has everything a new thriller should and it won't disappoint by Team Orenda!
Thank you Gunnar Sta
Cheryl M-M
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Varg seemed a little less cantankerous in this book and a lot more amicable. I suppose discovering that the mother you thought you knew isn’t the woman everyone else remembers is a bit of a surprise, and finding out you have a half-sister to boot is a wee bit of a shock.

Norma turns up out of the blue to tell him they are related and to ask Varg whether he will look for her missing god-daughter Emma. He instinctively feels compelled to help, despite the fact his sister is vague and secretive abou
Sooz (P.Turners Book Blog)
WOW! I was ready for that! I have been reading a fair amount of contemporary romance of late (too much crime fiction make Sooz a little fuzzy headed) and I was ready to get my head back into the world of Noir and BIG SISTER was EXACTLY what I needed in my life!

After WOLVES IN THE DARK I continue to find it refreshing that Veum is not a sprightly young thirty-something man who displays quick reflexes and is able to acrobat himself out of any murky situation! No. Veum is in his sixties for startes
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
Big Sister is part of the Varg Veum series which first started back in 1977, this is the fourth book to be translated into English and published by Orenda Books. Despite the long running series, Big Sister reads very well as a standalone therefore no prior knowledge is needed. I suspect that if you have read the books in order then there is a higher level of understanding associated with each read however it doesn't impact new readers. I absolutely loved Wolves in the Dark so was very excited to ...more
Noemi Proietti
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’d like to start by thanking Anne Cater and Orenda Books not only for providing me with a copy of the book and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, but also for introducing me to the novels of Norwegian author Gunnar Staalesen. I am still finding my way in the Nordic novels and I am always happy to discover new authors.

The protagonist of the novel is Varg Veum, a private investigator who would have never thought that the first time he met his half-sister Norma would be when she asked
Donna Maguire

I really enjoyed this story, it was well paced and kept me hooked!

I loved the story line and found myself addicted to the plot - I needed to find out how the book ended but also didn't want it to stop at the same time! It is more of an old style crime thriller and I really enjoyed it for that as it stood out from a lot of other books available at the moment.

This is part of a series but I haven't read any of the previous books and it read fine to me so I'm
Ken Fredette
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Gunnar's story which had so many turn arounds that it was just amazing to me to see these as simply ordinary. What happened was that a woman older than Varg Veum came to see him and wanted him to find her god daughter. It turned out it was his half-sister from his mother who had never told him. With no leads, he started by finding out about a girl that had been raped in 1975. This was the start of the book. It goes on from there and it twists back upon itself many times and I wo ...more
Jeremy Megraw
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted on Crime Fiction Lover

Varg Veum, a private eye operating out of the Norwegian town of Bergen, can’t seem to catch a break. He compulsively accepts cases that pay little or nothing but which he solves nevertheless, often at great personal sacrifice. Body and soul.
When a stranger strolls into his improvised office embedded in a hotel, she is no exception to this pattern. She has even less to offer Veum, except for one startling fact – his new client turns out to be his long lost
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By the time I got around to buying a copy of this book I had to see so many great things written about it, I was starting to get a little nervous. I'm a big fan of private detective story's, some of my first forays into the world of crime fiction where in this genre, all be it mostly Philip Marlowe stories. The plot did strike me that it could easily have come from one of those greats in the genre and it felt like it hit all those key points you would hope to see. I did, however, have the thoug ...more
The Literary Shed
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nordic Noir writer Gunnar Staalesen pays more than a nod to Raymond Chandler in his latest book, Big Sister, the twentieth featuring popular PI Varg Veum. The Little Sister (1949) was Chandler’s fifth book featuring Philip Marlowe.

‘I have a sentimental relationship with [The Little Sister],’ he says, ‘because it was the first one of Chandler’s that I read. After the first chapter I was sold. This was my way of writing, and I have been inspired by it ever since.’

And, indeed, there is something ab
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Gunnar Staalesen is a Norwegian writer. Staalesen has a cand.philol degree from Universitetet i Bergen and he has worked at Den Nationale Scene, the main theater in Bergen.

Other books in the series

Varg Veum (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • Das Haus mit der grünen Tür (Varg Veum, #1)
  • Yours Until Death (Varg Veum, #2)
  • Tornerose sov i hundre år (Varg Veum, #3)
  • Kvinnen i kjøleskapet (Varg Veum, #4)
  • At Night All Wolves Are Grey (Varg Veum, #5)
  • Der Hexenring. Varg Veum Ermittelt  (Varg Veum, #6)
  • Black Sheep (Varg Veum, #7)
  • Anges Dechus (Varg Veum, #8)
  • Bitre Blomster (Varg Veum, #9)
  • Begravde Hunder Biter Ikke (Varg Veum, #10)

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