Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Conspiracy of Faith, by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Jussi Adler-Olsen. A Conspiracy of Faith. New York: Penguin, 2013. 504 pages. ISBN 9780142180815.

A Conspiracy of Faith is the third book in Jussi Adler-Olsen's "Department Q" series. Adler-Olsen has been described as the Danish Stieg Larsson. Following on The Keeper of Lost Causes and The Absent One, A Conspiracy of Faith continues the story of Carl Mørck, leader of Department Q, a police unit that investigates cold cases.

A message in a bottle has turned up in Scotland. After sitting for years on a windowsill, it was opened by an investigator who quickly realizes that it is a real call for help. Who wrote the message, and when? After the language is identified as Danish, the message is returned to the Danish police for them to investigate as a potential violent crime. The many years have taken their toll on the quality of the paper and the message takes some time to decipher. It becomes apparent that the message describes the kidnapping of two brothers, one of whom wrote the message and feared for their lives. Each new word or phrase gives them another clue to follow. Soon, they realize that the kidnapper and killer may still be on the loose. Carl works with his assistants Assad, a Syrian immigrant, and Rose to track down the serial kidnapper and killer. In the meantime, Carl continues to fend off his estranged wife's demands, and to face his guilt over his former partner's condition. Hardy is paralyzed from the neck down after being shot in an operation in which Carl froze up from fear. Carl's romance with his therapist Mona continues, and Rose's "twin sister" Yrsa takes over Rose's responsibilities in Department Q when Rose walks out in a huff.

I've enjoyed all three of the books in this series. The characters are interesting, and each book gives us more insight into their personalities and history. There are mysteries around Assad's background in Syria, and Rose's relationship with her sister Yrsa. What is the truth about what happened with Carl and Hardy? Maybe the fourth book in the series will reveal all: The Purity of Vengeance is available now in hardcover. I would recommend this book and series to anyone who likes Scandinavian crime fiction.

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