When I started interning, I promised not to review books that I read for work, but I have to break the rule with this one because it was so excellent and I want everyone to pick up a copy.
Carl Morck is a homicide detective with the Copenhagen police. When he and his partners are involved in a shooting, Carl is the only one who comes out physically unscathed–one partner dies and the other is left paralyzed–and the guilt gnaws at him and makes returning to work difficult. As a solution, the chief of police moves Carl to the new Department Q, which handles cold cases. The move is couched as a promotion, but it’s clear when Carl arrives in his new basement office that it’s anything but. Slowly, he settles into what he thinks are going to be days of surfing the internet and dealing with his eccentric assistant, Assad, but curiosity over the files on his desk gets the better of him, and he and Assad end up investigating the five-year-old disappearance of a government official, Merete Lynggard. In spite of himself, Carl gets more and more involved in the case, and as the pieces start to fit together, he realizes that Merete may still be alive.
I read another review comparing this book to an episode of the T.V. show Cold Case, and I agree. The book moves from Carl’s perspective to Merete’s, so, like Cold Case, you get a sense of the past and how all the incidents affect today’s investigation. The change in perspective also leaked out the story slowly, which really held my interest and kept the stakes very high.
Carl Morck and Assad are great characters–I loved that both are flawed and have their secrets. Some might find Carl a little too surly, but his frustration over the bureaucracy of the police department and his residual issues with the shooting and his problems at home all explained it pretty well for me (and I’ve seen characters like him on all the major cop shows on T.V., so he’s not that unusual). I look forward to charting their journey and seeing how they and Department Q develop. I’m particularly interested in learning about Assad’s past, which is the only sore point with this optimistic, smart, and fiercly loyal character.
I have the highest hopes that Jussi Adler-Olsen will have huge success with his U.S. debut. This novel is certainly worthy!
NOTE: This book is called Mercy in the UK. It had a May release and is available from Amazon UK.