I’m not usually big on serial murder crime books but I’ll make exception for Jussi Adler-Olsen’s Dept. Q series. This is the third book in that bunch. I rarely zip through a series so not getting to book 3 until now is probably normal – I kind of feel like getting a move on though as I’m still 3 behind – or maybe it’s 4 now.
Anyway, the series features Detective Carl Merck of the Copenhagen Police Department, Dept. Q (Cold Case Files) and his two assistants, Assad and Rose. Carl is nearing retirement age but resisting, Assad is Syrian and very mysterious and Rose is at least half nuts. Together they provide a really nice dose of humor in the midst of what would be a very grim book.
One day a bottle with a message in it arrives for their department. It’s apparently more appropriate in their department than anywhere else. They remove the note and find a half legible message which is a cry for help from two boys apparently held by a kidnapper and scared for their lives.
Meanwhile another kidnapping is underway and the reader is introduced to a seriously bad dude who has too many names and disguises . One of his personas is a normal husband with a very nice wife and young son in the suburbs of Copenhagen. The victims of this guy are many as he has been kidnapping the children of various religious sects throughout Denmark for many years – the sects which don’t have anything to do with “outsiders” so they won’t go to the police. (These do exist, btw.) He’s got the routine down pat.
As usual, and mentioned above, when the darkish criminal activities get too intense the much lighter detective work gets a section and Adler-Olsen is a master of the cliffhanger chapter endings. He’s also a master of creating characters perfect for the crime novel – smart, tough in their own ways and entertaining enough to maintain interest for the series. Meanwhile the suspense stays right up there with an intimate portrait of a very slick, smart and terrifically bad bad guy – oops! Before you know it, hours have gone by.
This is the best Adler-Olsen book I’ve read and I understand they get better so I might just have to get to number 4, The Purity of Vengeance pretty quick and I’m so glad Graeme Malcolm narrates again.