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How Much Can One Morck Take: Buried

Buried: Book 5Buried by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Over three years ago, a civil servant vanished after returning from a work trip to Africa. Missing, presumed dead, the man’s family still want answers. It is one of the many unsolved crimes left for Department Q, Denmark’s cold case unit headed up by Detective Carl Morck. But what Carl doesn’t know is that the key to the investigation is in Copenhagen. Fifteen-year-old Marco Jameson is tough, smart and suspicious of police. Sleeping rough and hiding in the shadows is his way of life. But what is he running from – and what does he know worth killing him for?

First Impressions: A good story but why exactly did we have to wait so long for Carl and the gang to make an appearance??!!

Highlights: So much bad coffee and too many camel jokes. How much can one Morck take? As you can guess I love the humour of this series. Every time Gordon blundered his way through a police investigation I had a chuckle to myself. On the other side of things, I thought Carl’s eventual meltdown was very well written and my heart went out to him. Finally, I didn’t know if I’d enjoy the chapters from Marco’s perspective – a teenage beggar/pick-pocket gang member – but I did. They were often full of action.

If I was an editor: C’mon Carl, solve a crime in Jutland sometime soon!

Overall: This Department Q series has taken hold of me. I can’t even comprehend starting another novel until I finish this series.

Buried: 5 Stars

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The Best One Yet: The Hanging Girl

The Hanging GirlThe Hanging Girl by Jussi Adler-Olsen

In the middle of a hard-won morning nap in the basement of police headquarters, Carl Morck receives a call from a colleague working on the Danish island of Bornholm. Carl is dismissive at first, but then he receives some shocking news. Carl then 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 hidden cult, where Carl and his assistants must stop a string of new murders by a skilled manipulator who refuses to let anything-or anyone-get in the way.

First Impressions: Hooked from page one. Love the Bornholm setting and local police issues such as excess weight issues on the ferries.

Highlights: I felt this novel seemed a bit more contemporary than the previous five in the series with the brief references to Ipads, as well as all the New Age cults, groups and spiritualities. Fascinating. I liked how three years had passed and Dept Q have been working on all sorts of crimes in the interim. It makes it feel a realistic workplace. The relationships between Carl, Rose and Assad have developed over this time and they may even be sort of close to bordering on being actual friends! There’s a certain tenderness in their ‘duty of care’ for each other. Most importantly, this story has a cracking pace and I couldn’t stop reading it! If only it was a few hundred pages longer…

If I was an editor: Oh no! How long do I have to wait to find out what’s up with Rose?

Overall: The best one in the series yet.

The Hanging Girl: 5 Stars

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Morck Indulgence: Redemption

RedemptionRedemption by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Two boys, brothers, wake tied and bound in a boathouse by the sea. Their kidnapper has gone, but soon he will return. Their bonds are inescapable. But there is a bottle and tar to seal it. Paper and a splinter for writing; blood for ink. A message begging for help… In Copenhagen’s cold cases division Carl Morck has received a bottle. It holds an old and decayed message, written in blood. It is a cry for help from two boys. Is it real? Who are they and why weren’t they reported missing? Can they possibly still be alive?

First Impressions: Exactly as I would have wanted it to start – intrigue… and Carl Morck!

Highlights: This novel was a bit longer than the previous ones in the series which meant the reader gets to indulge in Carl Morck’s actions and interactions. How fantastic! The effects of his coffee drinking and stereotyping of other Scandis (this time the Jutlanders) never fails to amuse. The investigation in this book was a bit more drawn out which meant I got to enjoy more of Carl, Assad, Yrsa and Rose. Fabulous! I am also glad for the final chapter as I would have been very unsettled as I have a young son myself. However, my heart was racing a bit through these pages I must admit!

If I was an editor: What also made the novel a bit longer was the extra detail from the POV of the perpetrator and victims. It was an interesting (religious) crime but I probably would have preferred not to follow this strand so closely. Rather, to have it referred to in a more mysterious way where I had to fill in some of the gaps in the story myself would have been preferable. This part of the narrative was perhaps a bit overdrawn in my opinion.

Overall: A definite must for fans of the series! Everyone else, start at book 1…

Redemption: 4 Stars

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Brilliant Scandi Crime Series: Department Q

I love Scandinavian crime novels and recently stumbled across Guilt, book four of Jussi Adler-Olsen’s Department Q series in my local library. I have had this series on my radar for a while and I can assure you book four was so fantastic I read books one and two in quick succession. I thought it would be easier to review all three in one post (and I am also behind in my reviews).

I am reviewing the three novels in the order I read them. No spoilers which does make my discussion of the plots a bit superficial…

Guilt Department Q book 4
Detective Carl Morck from Copenhagen’s cold case division is looking into the disappearance of Rita Nielsen, an escort agency owner. The investigation reveals that Rita is only one piece of the puzzle. Because this is not a one-off incident – but part of a disturbing pattern which has been hidden from prying eyes for over twenty years…

To use the cliche, I couldn’t put this book down. Early on I did realise you should try to read the series in order so that you can appreciate all the plot threads and Carl Morck’s wry thoughts. I love the dark understated humour in Scandi crime and this book did not disappoint!  In the middle of a serious train of thought Carl would include an incongruous thought or an incredibly mundane and unnecessary point of reasoning. Morck is my kind of detective!
I don’t usually enjoy reading from the perspective of the perpetrator but it worked really well in this novel. Even though you know who is committing the crimes you can’t stop turning the pages until the end.
Also, all the characters are unique and their relationships believable so this helps make the novel even more enjoyable.
Guilt: 5 stars

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Mercy – Department Q book 1

Copenhagen detective Carl Morck has been taken off homicide to run a newly created department for unsolved crimes. His first case concerns Merete Lynggaard, who vanished five years ago. Everyone says she’s dead. Everyone says it’s a waste of time. At first he thinks they’re right…

Why oh why didn’t I start with book 1 in the series! You get the full story about how Department Q is started (not contrived at all) and a bit of Assad’s back story (Morck’s assistant). I love Assad! Admittedly, I did worry that I’d come across a few spoilers in book 4 but that was not the case. These events occurred before book 1. Phew! However, I would have definitely appreciated the relationships between the characters a bit more, as well as each character’s nuances if I had started with book 1. OK, enough about that.

I thought this crime was really original so I enjoyed this aspect of the book. I also continued to love Morck’s mundane and irrelevant thoughts (eg. Don’t the Finn’s have weird names?). Absolutely engrossing. What more can I say?
Mercy: 5 stars

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Disgrace – Department Q book 2

Detective Carl Morck of Department Q, the cold cases division, has received a file concerning the brutal murder of a brother and sister twenty years earlier. A group of boarding school students were the suspects at the time – until one of their number confessed and was convicted. So why is the file of a closed case on Carl’s desk? Carl wants to talk to Kimmie, one of the boarding school gang, but someone else is also asking questions about her. They know she carries secrets certain powerful people want to stay buried deep. 

Morck’s dry humour continues in this book with his thoughts about the cod-eating Norwegian delegation coming to visit. Department Q continues to develop and evolve with a new employee. This novel stays true to the style of the series and while I did enjoy it I have two criticisms (for want of a better word).
The first is that I didn’t particularly enjoy the crime being investigated so much even though it was quite big and exciting to follow the investigation. I wonder if the author was trying to trump the very original book 1, which would be near impossible to do. Also, I rarely read a story linked to school days that I really enjoy. This is just a personal thing.
The second is that the crime itself overshadowed Carl’s personal life and relationships – I wanted to read more about these as I felt more was given to this in the first two Department Q books I read. It is so rare to love all the characters in a crime novel and I wanted to read more about them.
Don’t get me wrong, Disgrace was still a great read but I preferred the previous two.
Disgrace: 3 stars

Overall: How glad I am that book 6 is released this week! Now I can continue indulging in the series without needing to decide if I should ration the latest instalment…