Tag: Scandinavian crime

Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Posted October 14, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime / 0 Comments

Mercy by Jussi Adler-OlsenTitle: Mercy (Goodreads)
Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Translator: Lisa Hartford
Series: Department Q #1
Published: Penguin, 2011
Pages: 512
Genres: Crime
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook 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.


The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø

Posted May 6, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime / 0 Comments

The Redbreast by Jo NesbøTitle: The Redbreast (Goodreads)
Author: Jo Nesbø
Translator: Don Bartlett
Series: Harry Hole #3
Published: Harvill Secker, 2000
Pages: 368
Genres: Crime
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: Amazon (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

When they advertise Jo Nesbø as ‘The Next Steig Larsson’, I’m inclined to pass on this author. But since a lot of people seem to be raving about this author, I thought I better check him out, especially when they class his Harry Hole series as hard-boiled. I’ve found the only reason they are calling him the next Larsson is simply because he is another Scandinavian crime writer; which means some overly graphic murders, Nazis and an expected twist. The Redbreast is the third book in the Harry Hole novel but the first available in English. Hole is investigating neo-Nazi activity which leads him to further explore Norway’s activities on the Eastern Front during WWII.

Throughout the book it switches between telling the story of Harry Hole in 1999 and the man he is hunting Daniel Gudeson during the World War II. I like how Nesbø switched between the two times and characters to flush out the back story that was leading up to a much bigger current day threat. But that is where I stopped liking this book; I just felt this book was generic and too predictable for my liking. I want to be shocked, excited and enjoy myself when reading crime novels; one out of three just doesn’t cut it.

Now to address the genre issue; Harry Hole could be classed as a hard-boiled detective, as he drinks, smokes and seems to be a very bitter man. However, this novel seems to missing some of the elements that makes hard-boiled novels what they are; for starters where was the dark and gritty realism that I’ve come to love in pulp novels. Also the book was missing a femme fetale as well as the strong dialogue with hints of wittiness and/or irony. This felt more like the generic bestseller crime formula and if we are going to call Jo Nesbø ‘hard-boiled’,  we would have to let Michael Connelly in as well; and we don’t want that.

While this was in fact a fun book to read, I went into this book expecting something more pulp like and ended up getting generic. I’m sure there are plenty of people that will love this book, just don’t expect pulp; you’ll be sadly disappointed. If you are interested in knowing more about pulp fiction,  check out my blog entries on pulp for recommendations.