The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen – review

This follow-up novel in the Department Q series, in which Carl Morck made his debut in “The Keeper of Lost Causes,” is quite different from the introductory book. It is more complicated, while the character of the protagonist and his assistant, Assad, essentially remain the same. And to spice things up, another “assistant” is provided to Morck, the head of the office devoted to solving cold cases. This time it is a female, Rose, who, having failed her driving test at the Police Academy, is unable to achieve her desire to become an officer and has to settle for working at headquarters as a secretary.

Carl becomes intrigued with a 20-year-old case for which someone who has confessed is already serving a sentence for the murder of a brother and sister. However, it becomes apparent that some of his boarding g school classmates, now rich and prominent figures in Danish society, may have been involved not only in that crime, but also in a series of brutal assaults and even other murders. It is up to Carl and his “staff” to solve the case, despite being told by higher authority to stop their investigation.

The story is brutal and black, filled with riveting descriptions and depravity, the portrayals vivid. A worthy successor to a well-received first installment, setting the stage for the third, due out from Dutton in Canada in May and from Penguin in the UK in September (and, hopefully, not too long thereafter in the US), it is recommended.

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Theodore Feit

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