This is the second novel featuring detective Carl Mørck - the first being Mercy where Department Q, which investigates cold cases, was introduced. I thoroughly enjoyed Mercy, so was interested to see if Jussi Adler-Olsen could continue to write in such a gripping fashion.
I think I actually enjoyed Disgrace more than Mercy. In this book the team end up looking into a cold case that, it would appear, lots of important people don't want revisited. It's never really a whodunnit for the reader as the perpetrators of the crime are well known to us from the beginning of the book...it's more a case of following to see whether Carl and Assad, (his sidekick), can put all the pieces of the puzzle together, fend off the people trying to stop their investigation and, ultimately, bring the culprits to justice. It's worth noting that the crimes detailed in Disgrace are a little disturbing as they are pretty sadistic - be warned if you're overly unsettled by things like this!
Although I really enjoyed this read, there were a couple of minor niggles this time that hopefully will be smoothed out in the next book. There is a new addition to the team who didn't quite sit right with me - hopefully Rose will fit in better next time, (or disappear!). Also, I found that, in Disgrace, Assad occasionally became a little bit annoying instead of being the light relief that he was in Mercy.
Overall, though, another great book - I will definitely be getting the next one! Recommended.
on 15 November 2012
I was enthusiastic about Adler-Olsen's first Department Q-series novel ("The Keeper of Lost Causes"/aka "Mercy" in the UK), and I eagerly bought this follow-up (also published as "The Absent One" in the USA). I was fearful of course that it might be a let-down, but I have been pleasantly confirmed in my hopes. No doubt about it, Adler-Olsen is a worthy heir to Stieg Larssen. Indeed, this second book is as good, or perhaps even better, than the first one. This time around, Carl Morck and his mysterious Syrian assistant Assad are joined by a new secretary, Rose, who adds a bit of variety to the story, also giving Morck a new target for his frustration (though adding little else to the story). As before, though, the heart of the book is in its two main characters, with both humor and mystery, and in the plot, an original, relentless page-turner just as before. Adler-Olsen uses a sort of "Colombo" technique, giving parallel story development to the "good guys" and the "bad guys", though here the we know more about the people Morck is chasing right from the start, and this perhaps may make it seem slower in development, less suspenseful than the first in the series, but again he ties things up with a bang at the end. The story will keep you on the edge of your seat as you wonder what will happen next and how it will all end. If you like entertaining and intelligent thrillers, then be sure not to miss this one! Of all the modish Scandivian "noir" writers, Adler-Olsen is the definitely the front-runner, several notches above the others in my opinion.
Like others on this page, I`ve read "Mercy", the first novel in Adler-Olsen`s Department Q series, so it's with that perspective I`ll assess this follow-up. I won't trouble you with a long, unnecessary synopsis.
An apparently closed case-file mysteriously appears on Carl Mørck`s desk, leading to a re-opening of investigations which involve multiple murders and former pupils of an excusive school who are now in influential positions of Danish society; Mørck is determined to uncover the truth and find Kimmie, a key member of the group who has disappeared into Copenhagen's netherworld of drug addicts and down-and-outs.
This book consolidates the partnering of Mørck and Assad and adds another member to the team in the form of Rose, a secretary with police training; this new development speeds up the procedural parts of the story and introduces a different dynamic; Rose is a younger, feisty character whose presence irritates Mørck, but her value to the department is quickly demonstrated, despite his misgivings. This is likely to develop another interesting relationship strand in future novels; there are still hints as to Assad`s possibly murky past, and the incident that led to Mørck`s appointment to the department continues as a thread in the storyline. Mørck remains the lead character, still surly, but less indolent than in the previous book. The author clearly has a bigger background picture taking shape across the cycle.
"Disgrace" has a more conventionally structured plot, but has the same abrupt changes of scene and time-line that were present in Mercy - this seems to be a standard form for Adler-Olsen - but its easy to get used to; it's perhaps a better paced novel than the former, which relied heavily on the time-line device.
Disgrace also benefits from a new translator - gone are the incongruous Americanisms and clumsy attempts at colloquialisms that peppered the previous novel, replaced by a nicely flowing standard English narrative; one point however - and it must have been a real headache to deal with - how to convey that Assad is a foreigner speaking imperfect Danish without making the translation look wrong; Assad uses the word "then" too often - a mannerism Rose picks up on later in the novel. Its worth bearing in mind if you encounter the odd sentence that doesn't quite make sense.
This is quite a self-contained novel; despite being a sequel with a few references to the previous book, its a good stand-alone read; I preferred Mercy a little more, but this is a good continuation of the series.
I enjoyed 'Mercy', the first book to feature a rather attractive character in the unremarkable shape of Deputy Superintendent Carl Morck. Attractive in that he stands no nonsense, suffers his very small coterie of assistants beyond the call of duty, puts up with an ineffectual superior officer and lusts after his psychotherapist or maybe she's a psychologist or maybe she's a well... she is paid for straightening out Morck's mind whether it needs it or not.
And, to cap it all, he has to wrestle with a nasty bunch of people, all of them psychopaths, all of them now powerful figures in Danish society but who started their dreadful little habits at a boarding school some twenty years previously. Within the group is Kimmie, the only girl, sadistically abused by each of the boys and who now is out for revenge after one of the boys, now a bruising man, caused her to miscarry.
In point of fact, I had rather a soft spot for Kimmie. A girl, all alone in the Danish world, a mother dying early, a father disappearing to Monaco, a ghastly stepmother and a group of friends who encouraged her to commit acts of pure evil. Not that I'm excusing her actions in this book but she deserved a break in my view. She fights hard, reminding me somewhat of Lisbeth Salander of Tattoo infamy though any similarity to that trilogy remains no more than that.
It's a long book but you don't notice it. In fact, the end arrives far too quickly, always a good sign that this is a book which grips you tight, consumes you and spits you out having relished a darn good read.
In 'Mercy' Morck's little helper, a Syrian civilian named Assad plays a much more important role, as does another little helper called Rose who has a view of life unique to her - only don't get her tipsy or else!! When this trio, Department Q, manages to relate to each other, their search for the incontravertable proof which will condemn and punish these people, the crucial thread running through the book, is slowly unravelled. The writing is compelling, the scenes of the sadistic beaviour are well defined without mawkishness and the end result is probably as gratifying as you're going to get.
All-in-all, a really excellent crime procedural with a definite wish from me to the author to hurry up with book 3!
Readers who enjoyed Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen's first mystery to be translated into English, The Keeper of Lost Causes (published in the UK as Mercy), will probably enjoy this second unusual novel as much as the first. This mystery is somewhat different in its focus, however, spending less time on establishing the characters of out-of-favor Detective Carl Morck and his "assistant" Assad, hired originally as a custodian but with a remarkable talent for police investigation. Though little new or dramatic information is learned here about the intriguing personal lives of Morck and Assad (from an unnamed country in the Middle East), their characters deepen as the author shows them interacting with each other. Morck is also assigned a new employee, this one a secretary on "mile-high heels." All three characters work together when they decide to investigate a twenty-year-old case file that has mysteriously appeared on Morck's desk.
The case concerns a group of friends whose relationship goes back to prep school. Most have become immensely successful in the two decades since then. One is the owner of sixteen hospitals, one is an internationally recognized designer, one is a stock market analyst, and one, now deceased, has been a shipping magnate. Yet another, now in jail for confessing to a serious crime, has amassed a stock portfolio of incredible value. Rumors have swirled about this group from the time they were in school, since beatings, mayhem, and disappearances seemed to follow in their wake, but no one has ever been able to pin anything specific on any of them, and most have now become leaders of the community. The only female member of this group disappeared long ago.
That female, known as Kimmie, is now a street person, a violent woman with serious mental illness who spends her life trying to avoid people. Still angry about her treatment by members of the group more than twenty years ago, Kimmie, spurred on by her demons, has started to attack some of them, and when she is eventually spotted in Copenhagen, the group hires a private detective to find and eliminate the threat she represents to them all. Realizing that she is being followed, she decides she will take down those involved, and she amasses an arsenal which includes grenades, automatic weapons, and silencers. With no conscience, she is clearly the "absent one," but the author makes her a remarkably sympathetic character despite her sadistic behavior, and few readers will fail to respond to her pathetic neediness.
With half a dozen members of the gang, and Morck, Assad, Rose, and numerous police all involved in the story, what may seem like a fairly simple, straightforward plot becomes, instead, an intricate study of characters and interactions. The life of each member of the gang is described in detail from school to adulthood, adding to the tension and preventing them from becoming stereotypes. As the author slowly reveals the many and varied crimes they have all committed, including those against Kimmie, the novel becomes filled with dark psychological twists and turns. The novel is enhanced by the fact that Morck, Assad, and Rose are also unique characters who do not respond in traditional ways, and moments of humor accompany much of the horror. (Note: This novel was published in the UK as Disgrace.)
Disgrace is the second book in the Department Q series that was started by the first book Mercy. The author plans a further two books in the series. Our main protagonist is Inspector Carl Moerk of Department Q. He is a veteran cop in the Danish capital Copenhagen, a distrustful person, whose main job is to follow up and try to solve cold cases. While Moerk has a plethora of cases to try to solve he is intrigued by a file, which has mysteriously been put on his desk. It appears, on the face of it that the case was solved some time ago, the case involved double-murder and the culprit/criminal is behind bars for the last 20 years. So begins Carl's investigation into a group who orchestrate violence and murder, where a homeless women called Kimmie, ekes out her existence living on the streets of the city, but all is not what it seems as we find that she is a rich heiress, with a very troubled and dark past. Kimmie not only wants to avoid the authorities but also an evil group that are looking for her, a group of which she was once a member, until something happened to Kimmie.
There is a gritty realism to Kimmie's street life, the characters in the book are well rounded and their detailed interactions are complex and satisfying that said as a reader I still felt wanting something was missing, maybe because from the onset we know the identity of the evil group. Still a worthwhile read, I guess I will need to read Mercy the first book in the series to help me better understand the themes in this book.
Disgrace is the second in the Department Q series that began with the excellent Mercy. Department Q consists of Inspector Carl Moerk, a veteran, cynical Copenhagen police detective, whose remit is to follow up and ideally solve cold cases. Despite the piles of such files on his desk, Moerk here decides to investigate a file that has been mysteriously left there, even though the double-murder investigation concerned was solved and the criminal still in prison after 20 years.
Moerk, with the assistance of Assad, follows up on the clues provided, soon realising that there is a whole swathe of crimes that were probably committed by a group of people, one of whom has been persuaded to take the fall. Readers know that this line of thought is correct because the story of the criminals is told in parallel with that of the current investigation. The crucial link is that of a woman called Kimmie, who is living rough on the streets even though she is a rich heiress. Something happened to Kimmie, originally a member of the evil group, which has caused her to live the life of a fugitive - and there is now a race between the police and the criminals to find her.
Although readable, Disgrace lacks suspense because the reader is told the identity of the criminals from the start. The police characters are idiosyncratic and the details of their concerns are wryly amusing, but in themselves insufficient to maintain interest for the 500 pages of this novel. The strongest parts are the descriptions of Kimmie's life on the streets - a theme, however, that was more compellingly treated in Karin Alvtegen's excellent suspense thriller Missing.
I really enjoyed Mercy, Adler-Olsen's first Carl Morck novel, so was excited to read this follow-up.
Leading Copenhagen Police's Department Q (the cold case unit), Carl Morck is surprised to find a new case on his desk, given that it originally ended up with a conviction.
Twenty years ago, a group of dangerous and spoilt, rich kids were suspected of a double murder, but it was 9 years before one of the gang confessed.
Now, the evidence is pointing to a mistake in the real murderer and Morck, along with his serious, yet comical, sidekick Assad ends up investigating.
Seemingly blocked at every turn, having to cope with an unwanted new member of the team, and with no cooperation from any of the original suspects, Morck has a tough job on his hands.
Adler-Olsen - in Morck and Assad - has created a double act that make highly entertaining reading. Better than Morse and Lewis, the humour, interspersed with extremely dark and gruesome crimes, keeps the novel floating along, when it could all too easily get dragged into a murky, unpleasant read.
This is No.2 of a 4-part series of Morck stories and I shall be eagerly anticipating the remaining two.
on 3 August 2012
Of course it's a tiny bit predictable and an equally little bit formulaic, but that's why we love thrillers isn't it? You know that the dour police inspector, with his keen assistant and justifiably stoppy secretary, is going to get the baddy in the end. (Or at least you've got a reasonable expectation of this, given that there's another book in the series.) You hope he'll get there just in time to save someone from being put to a horrible death, but along the way some other characters are going to be lost.
In Disgrace, the baddies really are quite despicable. Upper class super-rich who believe they are above the law, who can buy their way out of anything. Or almost anything. There's one person who can destroy their sadistic games and their financial empires, and it's a question of who can find her first.
This book is smoothly translated from the original, with none of the hiccups you can get when the English version slightly misses the mark here and there. You also learn a lot about a culture and country that's similar to ours, but not quite the same. Anyway, I give it five stars and as a fan of the Scandinavian thriller, I can't wait for the next one.
When it comes to detective/thriller/mystery novels I like quirky and I like to read novels based around foreign detectives, just as a change.
In Mercy I really enjoyed the interplay between the two main characters of Morck and Assad and was waiting for more of the same to push the character development along and create an identity that sets the Department Q series apart. I'm not quite sure whether this novel achieved that. I wondered and still wonder why there had to be such long-winded descriptions of gratuitous violence and what they really contributed to the story. However, I felt that this was a competent follow-up to Mercy and am waiting to see what happens next before I finally decide to stick with the series or let it go.
The movement in Scandinavian, Nordic and Icelandic detective/mystery fiction is to concentrate on the interplay between characters and the psychological baggage they all have as they solve crime in their unique eclectic anti-authoritarian ways whilst painting a pretty bleak picture of their respective societies as a whole. Addler-Olsen is no different in this respect. Mercy was better, but this one wasn't bad.