163. Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen. Translated from the Danish by Lisa Hartford (UK only)
Department Q, #1

Pages: 504
Ages: 18+
Finished: Jul. 23, 2011
First Published: 2008, Denmark, (May 20, 2011, UK)
Published in Canada and US under the Title "The Keeper of Lost Causes" on August 23, 2011
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: mystery, thriller, suspense
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

She scratched her fingertips on the smooth walls until they bled, and pounded her fists on the thick panes until she could no longer feel her hands.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Penguin UK.

Reason for Reading:  The plot just screamed "read me!" and I'm a fan of Scandi Crime.

Outstanding!  The first chapter had me hooked on the case and the second chapter had me fascinated with the main character, Copenhagen detective Carl Morck.  Usually I'm into the serial killer type of crimes but this case involves a kidnapping/missing persons case that is incredibly taut and gripping.  Carl Morck has just come back to work after being in a shoot-out where he was injured and each of his two partners were either killed or seriously impaired for life.  Carl  has never been a lovable guy and this emotional event has not helped matters.  He is sent to the basement, given his own department, Department Q, where he will work on cold cases.  The first one that he and his Syrian assistant choose is that of the missing persons case of a prominent young female politician who has been missing, presumed accidentally drowned, five years ago.  But Carl and Assad find out that many things were not properly investigated at the time.  Everyone assumes that she is dead, but Merete isn't dead and won't be until her kidnapper's appointed time of execution.

Carl is a flawed character with many problems but one that the reader routes for and agrees with as he fights against the establishment.  His Syrian assistant, Assad, is both comic relief and a very intriguing character as he demonstrates great insight into detective work and has amazing contacts and capabilities which provoke interest in his mysterious past.  Carl and Assad make a great team, their opposing characters bounce off each other as each gains great respect for the other.

The case was fabulous!  Everything one can want in a thriller.  Full of twists and turns and fantastic descriptions of the victim's suffering.  The point of view alternates between the present with Carl investigating the disappearance and with the past as we watch what happened to the victim unfold until the years meet up with the present.  I must admit I guessed "whodunit" *very* early in the book, not from any clues, just simply because it felt like a logical surmise.  This didn't spoil my reading one bit though as all the twisting and plot reveals only unfolded into an amazingly unguessable plot that put everything together in a very satisfying story for me.  I can't wait for the next book which will be called Disgrace in the UK.


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