The Hanging Girl – Jussi Adler-Olsen

This is the sixth in the author’s Department Q series, most* of which I have read and enjoyed. This one was no different. It’s a terrific, well written crime story with fine characters, an interesting backdrop, a decent plot, and the promise of more.

The main character is Detective Carl Morck. He and his somewhat off-the-wall colleagues live in the basement of the police headquarters, dealing with cold cases. Of course, their ways are not those of ordinary police, and they do not exactly make too many friends there. However, they are successful, and that’s what ensures their continued operation.

This particular case is sparked by a lead from a police officer about to go into retirement. Twenty years ago, a missing schoolgirl turned up dead, high up, hanging from a tree. The circumstances were never clear, and the person responsible for her death was never found. What can Department Q achieve?

The reader gets a peek behind the curtain, with a look inside the head of one potential candidate for the role of murderer. At the same time, the author continues to drop hints about the background of Morck’s colleagues, as well as the major incident in his own history. So, there are several strands going on here, all of which the author handles deftly and assuredly. The mystery is slowly unraveled, with the usual twists and turns, but not too many of them so as to break through the suspension of disbelief. And there are some seeds planted for future encounters.

One caveat I would give is that it would be best to come to this book after having read the previous five. The back stories are being developed, and starting here would be more of a struggle, and less enjoyable. In order, the previous five are: Mercy, Disgrace, Redemption, Guilt, and Buried. (For some reason, I didn’t blog about book five.)

Finally, a vote of thanks to William Frost for the translation.

[*Disgrace was the only one that I thought let down the side.]