6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Mercy (Department Q 1) (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Mercy is the first of a trilogy of `Department Q' thrillers and an English debut for Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen. This book will suffer comparisons with the Millennium Trilogy - unfairly in my opinion - but it is a good book in its own right and a promising start to the trilogy.
The story begins with a brief prologue, depicting an unknown woman scratching at a concrete wall and trying to work out how to escape, how to survive in the dark. The first chapter then gives the first glimpse of Carl Mørck, the `hero' - though perhaps anti-hero is more fitting; a temperamental, often infuriating detective with a troubled past, considered lazy and disliked by his colleagues in the Copenhagen police department. He is `promoted' to Head of Department Q - a department in which he is the sole member of staff - and given a pile of unsolved case files, tasked with solving these mysteries long after the trail has gone cold. He picks the file on Merete Lynngaard, who disappeared 5 years earlier and was thought dead after a bungled police effort to find her.
As a police procedural, the story does not tread much new ground, though Merete's prison is a novel idea and one that helps create tension. The novel is told from different view points and times, helping to keep it varied and hold the reader's interest. However, as a procedural, at times the pace slows - particularly in the middle section - as the trail runs cold; at these moments the reader shares the same frustrations as the detectives. Fortunately it picks up again and the final few chapters are unrelenting.
This is a strong opening to the trilogy, and I am keen to read the next books. Adler-Olsen's writing occasionally stutters (possibly the translation is at fault here), but is mostly enjoyable and is buoyed by a dash of wit. The main characters are well rounded with Assad, Carl's brilliant, somewhat unpredictable side-kick, providing comic relief (and sometimes steals the show); and Lynngaard a believable victim. The ending is not entirely scripted, but could be guessed before the reveal. However, the story is well-paced for the most part and a good read. It is recommended for fans of `Scandinavian Noir' or crime/thrillers in general.