Book Review: Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Mercy by Jussi Adler-OlsenRating: 5 stars
I read this in: Dutch (De vrouw in de kooi), the original language is Danish (Kvinden i buret), aka The Woman in the Cage
Number of pages: 384
First published: 2007 (English translation 2011)
Genre: thriller

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Mercy: What it is about

A woman was kidnapped and put in a concrete “cage” in 2002. She was a well-known Danish politician and was kept there in the dark. Her captors used a lock chamber to send buckets of food and other items to her, but were never in the same room with her. The police never found a trace of her and assumed she drowned because she was on a ferry crossing when she went missing.

In 2007, detective Carl Mork has survived a terrible shooting incident in which he was wounded, one of his colleagues died, and another colleague is still in hospital suffering from his injuries. As Carl can’t function in his old team, he is placed in the basement of the police headquarters, in a new department, Department Q, formed by him and a cleaner. This “Department” is to look at unsolved crimes that have been on the shelf for a while.

Carl is not interested but the cleaner, a Syrian refugee called Assad, starts reading the files of the old cases and gets Carl to begin investigating the first case, that of the missing politician, whose body was never found.

Soon, they have new leads, shaming the original investigators who did a half-hearted job. Slowly, but surely, they find more and more clues which eventually lead to an understanding of what happened 5 years ago.

Mercy: What I thought

I loved this book! It was my first book by this writer and I had no idea what to expect but it was great.

I loved it how Assad, who was hired as a cleaner, turned out to have great analytical skills, an eye for detail, and was very versatile, in many aspects (e.g., he knew how to use a knife at a crucial moment). Carl was the quintessential flawed detective that you so often get in thrillers, but in his case, it was not his fault, he was traumatised and I felt sympathetic towards him.

The investigation was wonderful – bit by bit Carl and Assad discover more information that was not in the original files and slowly work towards solving the case.

If you like a good thriiller, I can highly recommend this book. I will definitely read more by this author. In fact, I know there are 3 more books in the Department Q series. Mercy is the first in the series.

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15 Responses to Book Review: Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen

  1. bibliolathas says:

    I really enjoyed this book too – I must read some more Department Q.

  2. Kim from Reading Matters added this book to my wishlist last year. I’m so pleased that you enjoyed it too. Having both of you endorsing this book almost guarantees that I’ll enjoy it. In fact I might go and add it to my library reserve list right now!

  3. Fiona says:

    I loved Mercy too – it was only released last year in the UK – are the other books in the series also available in Dutch? I think it was released here because us Brits fell in love with the Danish crime series “Forbrydelsen” or The Killing as it’s called. On the back it is described as a cure for people going through withdrawal symptoms for The Killing which I found quite funny. British people aren’t used to having subtitled TV and suddenly we feel all cultured and educated for once. I am hoping that this current obsession will develop into other countries as well.

    I loved the friendship and the partnership between Carl and Assad, the cleaner in is rubber gloves!! So funny and yet so interesting. I can’t wait to read the others coming up in the series. I also like the fact that I will get to read them as they’re released. Most often with crime series I come into them when there’s already about 20 books written and it feels like a never ending list of books I’ll never get around to reading.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Fiona, there are I think 3 or 4 books in this series translated to Dutch. We always get the Scandinavian thrillers long before they are available in English! I had read the Millenium series *twice* before the third book was even translated to English. :-)

      I have heard of The Killing but I’ve not seen it. Yes, subtitles are not really for the common man in England! It’s sort of art house / really special – only for the best of the best. ;-)

  4. Nadine Nys says:

    Yes, Judith, you did it again… I’ll have to read this one, too. :)

  5. Tes says:

    It sounds like a very interesting book. I will definitely look for the English copy of this :)

  6. Uniflame says:

    It surely sounds interesting though thrillers aren’t usually my thing.

  7. Pingback: Boek recensie: De fazantenmoordenaars van Jussi Adler-Olsen | De Boekblogger

  8. nusrat says:

    it was a good book especially the ending…..just beautiful
    very sad though locked in a place for 5 years with nothing to do…..very scary thought

  9. Karelia Stetz-Waters says:

    That’s a great book. Great choice for a review.

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