All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Redemption – Jussi Adler-Olsen

on September 25, 2013

RedemptionRedemption (Department Q #3)
Jussi Adler-Olsen (Translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken)
Penguin Books Aus
2013, 632p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Somewhere in Scandinavia, two brothers are being held hostage in a boathouse on a lake. They are chained to the walls, unable to escape and their cries for help go unheard.

Years later in Copenhagen’s cold case division Department Q, the head of the division Detective Inspector Carl Mørck receives a glass bottle that has been smashed to pieces. Inside was a slip of paper holding a message written in blood. The bottle was found some years ago but was left sitting on a windowsill and the subsequent condensation has destroyed a lot of the message. What they have been able to decipher doesn’t sound good. Is it real or just some message-in-a-bottle prank? And if it’s real, how do they go about tracking down the author of the letter when they don’t have a name, a timeframe, a location or even a crime yet? This is going to take some careful analysis and deciphering to see if they can piece the information together.

Carl and his team persevere and eventually the pieces of the puzzle and the letter start to come together. They look to have stumbled on a highly organised one man operation kidnapping scheme, where children of wealthy religious families are kidnapped and held to ransom. Carl has to track down other families that might’ve fallen victim to this scheme but that’s also not easy: most are from insular religious sects who don’t associate with the outside world very much and also, they’re scared as well. Somehow, the kidnapper still holds something over them, even years later.

Carl despairs of ever being able to find the culprit. After all, the message in the bottle is from long ago. Is this still going on? And the more they dig, the more the kidnapper proves utterly gifted at hiding his true identity.

But Department Q isn’t the cold cases division for nothing…they excel at putting the small things together to find the bigger picture.

The two previous books in this series, Mercy and Disgrace proved to be some of my favourite reads from 2012. The main character Carl Mørck survived an ambush that left one of his colleagues dead and the other paralysed from the neck down. He was shuffled to a new department named Department Q, charged with dealing with cold cases. It was a way to both get him out of the way and secure a huge amount of new funding, supposedly for the new division, but most of it is funneled elsewhere. Carl and his two colleagues, the mysterious Syrian refugee Assad and their temperamental secretary Rose rarely see any of the budget. Carl and Assad have already solved several impossible cases and their model is being studied and analysed by policing departments from other European countries.

In this novel, Carl has been away and when he returns, he finds himself dealing with Occupational Health & Safety who want to inspect the basement that has become his office for asbestos and the fact that Rose, his secretary has gone awol and sent her even odder sister Yrsa in her place. Only the intrigue of a new case, a new puzzle, occupies him when he receives a smashed glass bottle that contained a note written in blood in Danish. Carl first has to determine if the note is serious or a prank and then set about attempting to solve it.

In reviewing these books, I have to talk about the relationship between Carl and Assad again because it is brilliant. Author Jussi Adler-Olsen has long given the hint that Assad is more than he seems and although Carl has fleeting thoughts, he often overlooks Assad’s investigative skills and his ability to get himself out of trouble and hold his own in a fight or interrogation. In this novel, Carl finally begins to attempt to sort out just what Assad might be hiding – he realises that Assad doesn’t live where he claims (and perhaps hasn’t ever lived there) and all attempts to find Assad’s correct address fail. I absolutely love Assad. His amusing grasp on the foreign language, his hidden talents, the way in which he both irks and also endears himself to Carl is all so well done. I want to know more about him – always.

The mystery in this one is good. Seriously good. We are treated to lots of different points of view in order to build up the whole picture while Carl does the hard yards attempting to work it out. We gain an insight into the kidnapper’s motives, methods and victims, including how he keeps them quiet, even years later. We meet his wife and understand his home life and even see his childhood. It all pulls together to craft a chilling crime and I found myself so invested in the fates of some characters while I waited for the police to put together everything I already knew. It’s definitely a page turner and doesn’t feel like a 650+ page book at all!

We also get a bit more about Carl’s private life in this book: he has moved his friend and former colleague Hardy Henningsen in with him from the hospital. Hardy was paralysed in the same shooting that Carl was in and Carl deals with the guilt that he wasn’t as seriously injured (or killed) most days. He clearly wants to help his friend, because his friend has told him in no uncertain terms that he will die if he has to stay in hospital. However at the same time it’s a big responsibility and upheaval for him and those who live with him, including his stepson Jesper. Add in to the mix the fact that Carl’s ex-wife wants to return to his home and perhaps make another go of things (as she’s currently without a man) and his troubled sort-of romance with Mona, a department psychologist, there’s quite a lot going on in Carl’s life outside of work, to stress him out. What I like is that Carl isn’t obviously a mess on the outside – but dig a bit deeper and you find the scars and the uncertainty and the problems.

This installment has definitely maintained the standard and skill of the previous two and I’m super grateful that as of this time, there are two more to be translated into English (with hopefully more to come!)


Book #247 of 2013

**Please note that in some English markets this book may go by the title A Conspiracy of Faith.


One response to “Redemption – Jussi Adler-Olsen

  1. The Word Jar says:

    Thanks for the great review! I reviewed Keeper of Lost Causes (Mercy) last year, and I loved it. I had forgotten to see when the next books were released. I’ll have to pick them up!

    My favorite part of the whole book was the relationship between Carl and Assad. Assad is still one of my favorite characters. Glad to see you enjoyed him as well.

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