The Viking Invasion continues in full swing with the first book in the slightly contrived named ‘Department Q’ series by Jussi Adler-Olsen (great name, no?) that has already been a massive success in Denmark and Germany being translated to English and released this month. It’s already at something like 28 in the WHSmith chart (I walk past the shop twice a day, its literally how I know what “people” are reading) which surprised me because I thought this sort of thing would be a climber.
Having slight Lund withdrawal (series two in SIX MONTHS people!) I pounced on anything set in Denmark and involving some sort of crime, unfortunately this detective Carl Morck (can’t quite figure how to put the line through the ‘o’ there! Sorry Danes!) doesn’t wear The Jumper, or have the same knack of staring into the middle distance whilst simultaneously ripping the heart (and floorboards) out of the local bent politicians.
Morck is your typical washed out cop. The survivor of a shoot out that left one cop dead and his partner paralysed, Morck’s attitude problem, and Copenhagen PD’s general lack of funds result in his being sidelined to head a new department, the eponymous ‘Q’ of the series title. It’s basically a cold-case department. Unfortunately, Morck ain’t no Peter Boyd, and there isn’t a Dr Grace Foley to keep him on the straight and narrow, just a heavily overused “assistant” Assad.
The first case investigated is that of missing politician Merete Lynggard, who vanished from a cruise ship seven years ago. Presumed drowned, in fact she has been kept prisoner by an unrelenting psycho all this time. We know this because of flashbacks to Merete in her cell, deprived of light and freedom, trying to stop herself going insane.
So what did I think? Well….I loved Morck. If Wallander is Scandinavia’s Morse, Morck is it’s Rebus. Every single cliche of middle-aged-detective is covered. Dysfunctional relationship with step-child. Drink problem. Slightly womanising attitude. Morck is also tolerant and kind and clearly brilliant, but still couldn’t help feeling that I’d seen it before. The ‘mystery’ was well executed, but would have been a billion times better if there wasn’t the Saw style flashbacks to the woman in the cell, as the juxtaposition with the style of writing used for the present day investigation and the flashbacks was too disparate. You either wanted to read one or the other, and I do admit to skipping, then reading back at the end.
Like watching The Killing, I wanted to know more about the Danish political system, as there are definite anti-government attitudes displayed throughout the book.
However, a great addition to the Viking invasion, I’d definitely read the rest of the series. Fans of Crime Dramas, especially Koontz and Rankin (thankfully not as disgustingly bloody as Patterson) will enjoy. I can see this being many a crime-fan’s beach read this year, and they will not be disappointed.