Book Review: Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen
February 22, 2012 17 Comments
Rating: 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)
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.