The department’s cramped and spartan office – a cupboard - was situated in a basement, symbolising its lowly status and weak priority for Copenhagen police: the bottom of the pile really, with little resources to make the ascent out of obscurity.
Mørck was never going to rest on his laurels, having previously been the only one of three detectives to emerge physically unscathed from a shoot-out where a colleague had been killed and another paralysed for life. Morose and difficult, he has a female psychiatrist, an idea which his creator might just have borrowed from Tony Soprano. He started as he meant to go on: determined to make a success of the project. His first case had been so remarkable and unexpected that it had stirred interest in high places. Consequently, prior to avisit from the police breass, there had to be an injection of decorum into Q. The Mørck-Assad duo was usurped by the addition of a secretary cum administrator. And then there were three. In a Mick Herron novel Rose Knudsen might have been regarded as a slow horse but she adds edge to the Q Team.
Having overcome the first challenge in the claustrophobic surrounds of Mercy, Mørck was up for it when, in Disgrace, a new case lands on his desk. The nose starts twitching as he reviews a 1987 double murder of a brother and sister in a cottage. Lisbet Jørgeneon and her brother Søren had been stabbed to death while seemingly playing a board game.
Bjarne Thøgersen,A school pupil confessed and was subsequently sent down. Case solved … but only partially and maybe even wrongly. That the file landed on his desk invited wonder if there was more to it. Nobody in the wider police department took responsibility for moving it into Mørck’s space, enhancing the suspicion that Q was b being nudged and steered.
In rummagging for a lead, the hunters are drawn to perhaps the book’s most intricate character, Kirsten-Marie ('Kimmie') Lassen or Kimmie as she goes throughout the novel. a woman living on the streets and toughened by them. Having watched the movie before reading the book, the image of Danica Curcic’s brilliantly played character, crystallised the mental image of the Kimmie.
Her difficulty was not just that the police were in search of her but that others eager to protect themselves from the consequences of the police search had secrets to protect. Those who have a secret about a killing will not find it too great a moral leap to resort to killing to protect the secret.
Power, status, privilege and wealth all figure as blocking tackles in the investigation. A designer, a private hospital founder, a financial shares analyst with a Hooray Henry background are prepared to go the extra mile on the basis of what we have we hold.
The novel thematic is the hunt, with the often-used themes of the hunter becoming the hunted. Even the game that the teenage victims were playing when slain was Trivial Pursuit. Department Q was not in pursuit of trivia but a gang of privileged and ruthless killers.
If anything the book could have been shorter. I read it while evading the heat of a Catalonian sun and it seemed a long journey. Even allowing for my previously having viewed the film and knowing how the plot unfolded, with the heat an added irritant, 550 pages was gratuitously long. For those looking a murder mystery, this might not be for them There is murder but no mystery. The killers are revealed from the outset so the reader is not led through a choice of who done it but how solve it. A trail is blazed. The end when it comes is incendiary.
Jussi Adler-Olsen, Disgrace. Penguin. ISBN-13: 978-1405912662