The Hanging Girl (Department Q #6) by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: September 8, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the middle of his usual hard-won morning nap in the basement of police headquarters, Carl Mørck, head of Department Q, receives a call from a colleague working on the Danish island of Bornholm. Carl is dismissive when he realizes that a new case is being foisted on him, but a few hours later, he receives some shocking news that leaves his headstrong assistant Rose more furious than usual. Carl has no choice but to lead Department Q into the tragic cold case of a vivacious seventeen-year-old girl who vanished from school, only to be found dead hanging high up in a tree. The investigation will take them from the remote island of Bornholm to a strange sun worshipping cult, where Carl, Assad, Rose, and newcomer Gordon attempt to stop a string of new murders and a skilled manipulator who refuses to let anything—or anyone—get in the way.

Review –

This is by far my least favorite book of the Department Q series and I hoping it’s just a problem with the translation because I really do enjoy this series.

Presumably Carl Mørck, head of the Q Department, is the protagonist, but he comes across as lazy and disagreeable. Perhaps that is how he is supposed to be portrayed, but there is very little reason to cheer for him. Adler-Olsen’s other characters have little, if any, dimension; visualizing them is difficult, (not usual for this series).

There is some description given of Mørck’s assistants Assad and Rose and she has some job responsibilities with her computer knowledge and organizational skills. Assad appears to be the comic sidekick who can’t seem to get the words right: strawstack instead of haystack. Considering that both of these characters have appeared in previous Department Q stories, it must be assumed that the author’s fans are already familiar with them and details are not needed. The other characters in the story all seem to be angry or manipulative—it’s hard to find anyone likable.

The premise of the story—a cold case file that has driven a police officer to suicide, but not until he has left clues for Mørck and his assistants to find in order to keep the cold case alive—would be workable if the story followed that line with fewer diversions.

The Department Q gathering of the mountain of information from the deceased police officer’s home is a little hard to fathom. With the information described as boxes and boxes of papers, magazines, books, letters, photos, etc., all neatly organized by Rose in an extremely short time span, it’s hard to believe that any organization could suddenly reveal the small clues and evidence needed to solve this crime.

Initially, the story does little to encourage the reader to continue listening. The storyline jumps forward and backward in time, and it almost seems that at the beginning of the story there is another storyline with no connection. This is a side story that starts at an earlier time and involves an alternative religious (cult) group. The scenes around this group are more interesting than those about the cold case file, and one must trudge through half of the book before the two issues begin to knit together in the story.

Although Adler-Olsen does a satisfactory job of tying up loose ends, the whole purpose of the story remains elusive. It’s hard to understand why a policeman would gather this large amount of information and leave it behind for others to explore, when the reality is that the police officer already knew the sad answer.

One interesting turn that is difficult to understand is what the author  does with Mørck’s assistant Rose at the end of the book. She has appeared in previous Department Q books, and if his purpose was to write her out of the series, presumably he has succeeded, and she may not be returning in any subsequent Q Department tales. Of course, fiction being what it is, she might come around again. . . . and I hope she does, because I don’t know what Carl and Assad will do without her.

Considering Adler-Olsen is a popular crime writer in Denmark one can only hope that with The Hanging Girl the translation to English is faulty, and in his own language he has painted a much more interesting and vivid picture.

 

 

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The Marco Effect (Department Q #5) by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: September 9, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

All fifteen-year-old Marco Jameson wants is to become a Danish citizen and go to school like a normal teenager. But his uncle Zola rules his former gypsy clan with an iron fist. Revered as a god and feared as a devil, Zola forces the children of the clan to beg and steal for his personal gain. When Marco discovers a dead body—proving the true extent of Zola’s criminal activities—he goes on the run. But his family members aren’t the only ones who’ll go to any lengths to keep Marco silent . . . forever.

Meanwhile, the last thing Detective Carl Mørck needs is for his assistants, Assad and Rose, to pick up a missing persons case on a whim: Carl’s nemesis is his new boss, and he’s saddled Department Q with an unwelcome addition. But when they learn that a mysterious teen named Marco may have as much insight into the case as he has fear of the police, Carl is determined to solve the mystery and save the boy. Carl’s actions propel the trio into a case that extends from Denmark to Africa, from embezzlers to child soldiers, from seemingly petty crime rings to the very darkest of cover-ups.

Review –

“A Danish banking scam whose tentacles extend to Cameroon spells trouble for Department Q’s Carl Mørck and a young boy who gets caught in the crossfire.

It’s true: The coverup is always worse than the original problem.

If only William Stark hadn’t gotten suspicious about the ostensibly gibberish text message a Bantu development officer sent from Cameroon just before he vanished, René E. Eriksen, his boss at the Evaluation Department for Developmental Assistance, wouldn’t have had to send him off to Africa to investigate or assented to a shadowy banker’s order to have him murdered on his return. And if only Marco Jameson, a teenage beggar hiding from his uncle Zola, who planned to have him maimed to increase his daily take, hadn’t taken refuge in Stark’s grave, Zola wouldn’t be sending his young corps fanning out all over Copenhagen to find the boy before he can lead the police to the body Zola buried himself. Now Marco is frantically on the run. Eriksen and his old schoolmate and co-conspirator, banker Teis Snap, are headed for a major falling-out. And Carl, who’d be perfectly happy investigating the houseboat fire that claimed the life of Minna Virklund, wouldn’t have been sucked into a series of coverup murders that threaten to go on forever.

These are already tough times for Carl. His girlfriend, psychologist Mona Ibsen, heads off his marriage proposal by breaking up with him; Marcus Jacobsen, the generally supportive head of Copenhagen Homicide, has abruptly retired; and the new acting head, deputy commissioner Lars Bjørn, has saddled Carl with Gordon Taylor, a rookie still in law school, to ride herd on Department Q’s expenses, ruin Carl’s interrogations and report every minor infraction back to his patron. So all parties concerned can expect major drama.

If a scene works, Adler-Olsen never minds reprising it two or three times with minor variations. The result is a tale as big and sprawling as Carl’s first four cases but more diffuse, more like a TV miniseries than a feature film.” Kirkus Reviews

For some reason I can’t pinpoint, I didn’t like this installment of the Department Q series.  It was all a bit convoluted  and rambled a bit, but still a great read.

 

The Keeper of Lost Causes (Department Q #1) by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: August 23, 2011

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Carl Mørck used to be one of Copenhagen’s best homicide detectives. Then a hail of bullets destroyed the lives of two fellow cops, and Carl—who didn’t draw his weapon—blames himself. So a promotion is the last thing he expects. But Department Q is a department of one, and Carl’s got only a stack of Copenhagen’s coldest cases for company. His colleagues snicker, but Carl may have the last laugh, because one file keeps nagging at him: a liberal politician disappeared five years earlier and is presumed dead. But she is not dead … yet.

Review –

Five Stars!  This book was fantastic !

Five years after Danish stateswoman Merete Lynggaard vanished without a trace from a ferry on a  crossing, Carl Mørck takes it upon himself to reopen the case as the first to be worked in the new Department Q. Despite the possible presence of an eyewitness, Merete’s unreachably brain-damaged younger brother Uffe, the mystery has long been dismissed as unsolvable by the Copenhagen police, who think Merete must simply have slipped off the boat for reasons unknown. But Carl’s in an unusually strong position to pick it up again. Banished to Department Q, his own personal cold-case unit, after a shooting left one of his best friends dead, another paralyzed and Carl himself with an incapacitating case of survivor’s guilt and rage, he can choose his cases, control his budget and call on police departments throughout Denmark for help. And he’ll need plenty of help, because the disappearance of Merete, who against all odds is still alive, held captive by a sociopathic family mad for revenge against the inoffensive minister, is only one of the problems he’ll face. His colleagues produce painful new leads on the shooting that annihilated his own team; he’s determined to put the moves on police crisis counselor Mona Ibsen, whose agenda emphatically doesn’t include his romantic overtures, because she’s married,and he can’t help growing suspicious of his remarkably talented new assistant, especially since he bears the name Hafez al-Assad. The trail to the truth is filled with authentically tedious loose ends and dead ends; the climactic confrontation with the monstrous kidnapper is very violent; and the final scene is unexpectedly touching.

I love this series, even though I read the first two out-of-order, I can’t wait to read the others and I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves foreign crime fiction/drama.  This one has it all!