Inspired by a dark chapter in Danish history, Jussi Adler-Olsen‘s most recent ‘Department Q’ novel is a delightfully balanced mixture of sombre and deadly-serious crime investigation with a humorously depicted back story.
This – the fourth novel in the Department Q series – reacquaints the reader with the quirky threesome who comprise the Copenhagen Police Department’s cold-case unit headed by the likeable Detective Carl Mørck. Carl seems to have equal parts admiration and disdain for his two sidekicks, Hafez el-Assad, his assistant (an Arab with a mysterious and murky past who has a penchant for strange teas and who treats Carl in a motherly fashion ) and Rose Knudsen (an intelligent, tall, goth-dressing secretary who seems to suffer from multiple personalities).
This time they are investigating the 1987 disappearance of brothel keeper Rita Nielsen. Once their investigation gets under way they realize that there are five people who disappeared at roughly the same time… all of which have never been discovered. Over time they link the disappearances to Dr. Curt Wad, a corrupt physician/politician who’s political platform is thinly disguised eugenics. He is the founder of the Purity Party which follows the belief that “forestalling the birth of offspring unworthy of our nation, and preventing conception in women who might produce them, is the continuation of a long and honorable endeavor”. He was instrumental in sending countless women to the island of Sprogo, where they were detained and many were forcibly sterilized. One of the detainees, Nete Hermansen, vows to exact revenge on Curt Wad and others who destroyed her life. Hence the perfect segue to the appropriate title “The Purity of Vengeance“.
The author’s research into the ‘women of Sprogo‘ is obvious. The publishing notes for “Purity of Vengeance’’ said that Adler-Olsen’s father, a psychiatrist, briefly worked at Sprogo, and his stories have profoundly impressed the son.
Jussi Adler-Olsen apparently effortlessly mixes serious subject matter, plot twists, and the clever use of dark sarcasm and wit to make this series a delight for mystery fans. I have enjoyed every novel in the series and by now consider Detective Carl Mørck and his sidekicks to be old friends. I’m looking forward to meeting them again soon…
Anyone interested in reading an interview with award-winning Jussi Adler-Olsen can do so here.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with the latest book in one of my favorite series.