Jun 24, 2011

Book Review: Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Title: Mercy (The Keeper of Lost Causes)
Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen, translated by Lisa Hartford
Paperback: 512 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd.
Genre: detective, crime fiction
Source: review copy from publisher
Objective rating: 5/5

About the book: Deputy detective superintendent Carl Morck of the Copenhagen Police, a detective with a good reputation, was nevertheless described by his coworkers as indolent, surly, and morose, a man who wanted to do things his own way and in his own time. Instead of demoting him, they decided to promote him and make head of his own section, Department Q, where he would be working on his own, with only an assistant for help.

Department Q was formed to handle cold cases, those deemed unsolvable yet important. Carl was given a new assistant, Assad, who seems to have no prior police experience. He turns out to be a gem in disguise, however, and helps Carl to get out of his chair and begin delving into the case of a former member of Parliament, Merete Lynggaard, missing for five years and presumed dead.  Merete is not dead, however, but imprisoned for five years in a box-like cell by unknown people, who leave her sometimes in perpetual darkness or perpetual light, without change of clothing, living for years in the most primitive conditions. She doesn't know who or what is behind her imprisonment or how long she will be allowed to live.

Carl begins to investigate with the help of Assad and his former contacts in government and the police.

My comments: A great police procedural with an unusual detective and an even more unusual side-kick in the resourceful and energetic Assad, who provides food, advice, information, and some comic relief to the serious situations Carl finds himself in. The plot was original, the main characters complex and realistic. There is pathos, humor, suspense mixed in this excellent thriller, which I enjoyed reading, almost all in one sitting. In other words, I didn't want to put it down.

About the author: Danish writer Jussi Adler-Olsen worked as a magazine editor and publisher before starting to write fiction. Mercy is the first of four novels in the Department of Q series. He was awarded the Glass Key Award for a crime novel by a Scandinavian author and has received several other awards in 2011.


  1. I didn't want to put it down either; I found both Adler-Olsen and Nesbo's books infinitely better than Larson's, did you? I was completely grossed out by the conditions with which Merete was kept, those are powerful images in my mind! Also, I kept thinking that as much as I liked Assad, perhaps he was in some way involved. Thank goodness he wasn't!

  2. Bellezza: I loved all of Larson's books. Lizbeth Salander is so different from Carl, it's hard to compare. They are both good! Jo Nesbo is an author I have on my list to read!

  3. This one sounds pretty great!! I'm getting hooked on these books!!

  4. It is so great to see the way my countryman is received abroad. I have read three of the Carl Mørck stories so far and thoroughly enjoyed them all. And Assad never fails to surprise the readers.

  5. Dorte: I hope to be able to read the rest of the Carl Morck books in English!


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