Title: Mercy (Goodreads)
Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Translator: Lisa Hartford
Series: Department Q #1
Published: Penguin, 2011
My Copy: Personal Copy
Buy: Amazon, Book Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)
I often get worried when I pick up this Scandinavian crime novel but I recently read The Dinner and I thought I might try another Dutch author; turns out this was a Danish novel. Mercy is the first book in the series by Jussi Adler-Olsen which has been marketed for people that enjoy the show The Killing as well as Scandinavian Crime. I love this show so I wanted to give this book ago; well actually I picked up Disgrace and realised it was book two in the series so I thought I better read them in order. Mercy is the story of detective Mørck who has been put in charge of new department dedicated to trying to solve cold cases; one final attempt before they give up on the case completely. His first case is a missing person’s case; Merete Lynggaard vanished five years ago and everyone assumes she’s dead but will Mørck be able to solve this case?
It’s interesting to note that this book is also called The Keeper of Lost Causes in most countries, which is a subtle attempt at humour, to reflect what type of book you are getting into here. I’m not sure why Australia are marketing this book as Mercy but it works better for their marketing campaign to just draw on the success of the TV show The Killing. You have the usual elements that you’d find in a Scandinavian crime in this book; cold climate and dark disturbing themes but I think Adler-Olsen’s attempt at adding some light heartedness in to the mix really worked in his favour. It’s almost like a cross between a Scandinavian crime and a buddy cop movie; because Mørck’s assistant Assad really stole the show.
Department Q is a mixture of a hard-boiled style detective in Mørck and the light hearted, carefree assistant that oversteps his role and does whatever he thinks would be the most fun; Assad. Not only do the two characters have personality differences but the cultural differences as well lead to some entertaining reading. While Mørck is an interesting character without Assad this book would just be another boring, generic Scandinavian crime novel (no offense to those who like these novels, they are just not for me).
The crime and police procedural elements of this book are pretty standard, you have the typical hard-boiled character and the dark and twisted crime they are solving but it really was refreshing to read a book that takes the same style and puts a new spin on it. It has really worked well for Jussi Adler-Olsen and I truly can’t wait to read the next in the series. If it wasn’t for these characters this book would be a two star read; luckily I was really entertained with this one.