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
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
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…