Yours Until Death is the first of the Varg Veum books translated into English although, oddly, not the first in the series. Based in Bergen in Norway, Varg is a dissolute small-time private investigator, and was formerly a Child Welfare officer.
The book opens with a young child walking into Varg's office seeking help recovering his bike from some vicious bullies. Varg agrees to help, and gradually starts to get involved with the boy and his recently-separated mother. After the mother asks Varg to talk to her ex-husband about child support, he sees him go into her flat where he is soon found dead, and she is found holding the murder weapon.
Despite appearances, Veum refuses to believe that she can have done this and offers to help the defense investigation.
The book is quite good without being highly original or surprising. Veum has a nice line in wisecracks but the character is not as memorable as Martin Beck or Kurt Wallander, for example. Staalesen gives him some depth by harking back to Veum's own unhappy childhood, but he doesn't do much with that, at least not yet. The book's real strength is Staalesen's prosaic descriptions of Bergen and its surrounds. One passage where he describes the sudden onset of Spring is excellent, as is the brooding presence he gives the mountain that glowers over this ancient city.