The Scarred Woman (Department Q #7) by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: September 19, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q, Copenhagen’s cold cases division, meets his toughest challenge yet when the dark, troubled past of one of his own team members collides with a sinister unsolved murder.

In a Copenhagen park the body of an elderly woman is discovered. The case bears a striking resemblance to another unsolved homicide investigation from over a decade ago, but the connection between the two victims confounds the police. Across town a group of young women are being hunted. The attacks seem random, but could these brutal acts of violence be related? Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q is charged with solving the mystery.

Back at headquarters, Carl and his team are under pressure to deliver results: failure to meet his superiors’ expectations will mean the end of Department Q. Solving the case, however, is not their only concern. After an earlier breakdown, their colleague Rose is still struggling to deal with the reemergence of her past—a past in which a terrible crime may have been committed. It is up to Carl, Assad, and Gordon to uncover the dark and violent truth at the heart of Rose’s childhood before it is too late.

Review –

“Whoever struck the blow that killed Rigmor Zimmermann and took 10,000 kroner from her handbag seemed to be copying the murder of substitute teacher Stephanie Gundersen more than 10 years ago, with one important difference: Gundersen’s killer didn’t go the extra mile in humiliation by pissing on her corpse. Carl Mørck, who heads Department Q, seizes the possible connection as avidly as a spaniel on a scent because solving another cold case would be the perfect way to keep Copenhagen’s tightfisted budgeters from shutting his unit down. Unfortunately, Carl’s boss, Lars Bjørn, has his own idea of the perfect way: allow meddlesome TV crime documentarian Olaf Borg-Pedersen unobstructed access to Department Q’s inner workings as they plod from one crime scene to the next. Meanwhile, social worker Anne-Line Svendsen, reprieved from the death sentence she feared her cancer diagnosis spelled, has decided to go ahead anyway with her plan to execute some of the prostitutes she counts among her most worthless clients: Michelle Hansen, Jazmine Jørgensen, Birna Sigurdardottir, Senta Berger, and Denise Zimmermann—some of whom turn out to be quite as homicidally inclined as she is, and one of whom will have a crucial connection to Carl’s cold case. The only thing needed to bring the whole mixture to a full boil is the mental breakdown of sorely tried Department Q staffer Rose Knudsen, whose suicide attempt ends up plunging her into the heart of this banquet of mostly female felonies.

Instead of focusing on a single high-concept case, Adler-Olsen lays out several florid plotlines and sets his crime-solvers the daunting task of gathering all the threads together. It’s such a varied smorgasbord that even readers who’d prefer to skip a given dish will find plenty to sate their appetites.” Kirkus Reviews

I normally love this series, but this one was too convoluted to hold my interest. It kept going back and forth from storyline to storyline, and even though eventually the reader (Me) could connect the dots, it was too laborious .

I’m not finding a #8 in this series so I don’t know if the author was too exhausted after completing  this one to even think of continuing the series. Fingers crossed that he’ll come back even stronger with new ideas and problems worthy of solving by Department Q!

 

 

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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.

 

 

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 purity of Vengeance (Department Q #4) by Jussi Alder-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: December 31, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In 1987, Nete Hermansen plans revenge on those who abused her in her youth, including Curt Wad, a charismatic surgeon who was part of a movement to sterilize wayward girls in 1950s Denmark.

More than twenty years later, Detective Carl Mørck already has plenty on his mind when he is presented with the case of a brothel owner, a woman named Rita, who went missing in the eighties: New evidence has emerged in the case that destroyed the lives of his two partners—the case that sent Carl to Department Q.

But when Carl’s assistants, Assad and Rose, learn that numerous other people disappeared around the same weekend as Rita, Carl takes notice. As they sift through the disappearances, they get closer and closer to Curt Wad, who is more determined than ever to see the vision of his youth take hold and whose brutal treatment of Nete and others like her is only one small part of his capacity for evil.

With The Purity of Vengeance, Jussi Adler-Olsen delivers a thrilling and shocking addition to his bestselling Department Q series.

Review –

Another cold case for the odd team of Copenhagen’s Department Q, together with two more incomplete blasts from the past for Detective Carl Mørck.

Except for the prostitute who reported her missing, no one much cared when brothel keeper Rita Nielsen vanished back in 1987, and it’s no wonder the case languished. Now, however, the mystery assumes new urgency with the news that she wasn’t the only one to disappear. The very same day, attorney Philip Nørvig, fisherman Viggo Mogensen, womens asylum guard Gitte Charles and do-nothing Tage Hermansen also went AWOL. Furthermore—though it takes Carl, his assistant, Hafez el-Assad, and his secretary, Rose Knudsen, quite a while to work this out—they all had links to Tage’s cousin Nete Hermansen, long immured in a Sprogø home for fallen women, whose second chance at a respectable life was dashed when Dr. Curt Wad, a stalwart of the Purity Party, confronted her and her businessman husband publicly with some sordid details of her past. The author cuts back and forth between the fatal day in 1987 when Nete decided to avenge herself on the people who had ruined her life and the present day, when Carl’s investigation of both Nete and Wad is complicated by rumors that Carl helped his cousin Ronny kill Ronny’s father many years ago and further hints of the horrific fatality that first sent Carl to Department Q. Fans of this series can rest assured that neither of these lesser subplots comes anywhere near closure.

There is a surprise twist at the very end that, I dare say, no one saw coming. (I love it when that happens!)

Fantastic read!

 

The Absent One (Department Q #2) by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: August 21, 2012

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In The Keeper of Lost Causes, Jussi Adler-Olsen introduced Detective Carl Mørck, a deeply flawed, brilliant detective newly assigned to run Department Q, the home of Copenhagen’s coldest cases. The result wasn’t what Mørck—or readers—expected, but by the opening of Adler-Olsen’s shocking, fast-paced follow-up, Mørck is satisfied with the notion of picking up long-cold leads. So he’s naturally intrigued when a closed case lands on his desk: A brother and sister were brutally murdered two decades earlier, and one of the suspects—part of a group of privileged boarding-school students—confessed and was convicted. But once Mørck reopens the files, it becomes clear that all is not what it seems. Looking into the supposedly solved case leads him to Kimmie, a woman living on the streets, stealing to survive. Kimmie has mastered evading the police, but now they aren’t the only ones looking for her. Because Kimmie has secrets that certain influential individuals would kill to keep buried . . . as well as one of her own that could turn everything on its head.

Review –

“Ditlev Pram is a founder of private hospitals. Ulrik Dybbøl Jensen is a stock market analyst. Torsten Florin is a prominent designer. Before they achieved their success, however, they were fifth-form students together at Rødovre High School along with Kristian Wolf, Bjarne Thøgersen and Kirsten-Marie Lassen. These last three haven’t done so well. Kristian died in an apparent hunting accident; Bjarne is doing time for killing Lisbet Jørgeneon and her brother Søren back in 1987; and Kimmie is living on the streets of Copenhagen. Now new evidence suggests that all six of them were responsible for the Jørgensens’ deaths and for a whole lot more mayhem as well. The upshot of Carl’s dogged investigation is to get himself suspended from the force. But aided and abetted by his loyal Syrian assistant, Hafez el-Assad, and his new secretary, Rose Knudsen, assigned to his unit after she failed her police driving test, he continues to build a case against his influential quarry, themselves desperate to track down Kimmie, whose voices have been telling her that it’s time to get revenge on them for their mistreatment of her. The long, eventful, often tedious chase climaxes in a wild hunt guaranteed to satisfy the most bloodthirsty readers.

As in Department Q’s debut (The Keeper of Lost Causes, 2011), Adler-Olsen plots and writes with both eyes on Stieg You-Know-Who. The result is overscaled, lumpy, strenuously unnuanced and destined for the bestseller lists.”

Kirkus Review

I love this series and can’t wait to read the next one!

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!