A Conspiracy of Faith
A Carl Mørck, Department Q Mystery by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Review: Copenhagen police detective Carl Mørck returns to work after several weeks off to find his basement office no longer exists. Asbestos has been found in the ceiling and needs to be removed. Unperturbed, he hangs sheets up around an area that is (relatively) asbestos-free and re-establishes Department Q in its proper, if not exactly organized, location. He and his team select two cold cases to investigate, but the one that seems to capture their collective imagination is that of a message in a bottle, in A Conspiracy of Faith, the third mystery in this series by Jussi Adler-Olsen.
The bottle has, quite unfortunately, only been recently discovered, even though it was sitting in plain sight on a Scottish detective's windowsill for a decade, the contents slowly decaying. The message, written in what appears to be blood, is clearly a cry for help. The writer and his brother had apparently been kidnapped and held for ransom, but little else can be readily determined, though the Scottish police decide that it is written in Danish and therefore to Denmark it is sent. After discussing various possibilities among themselves, Mørck decides that the bottle must have originated somewhere along the north coast, but he's puzzled why there was no report of a kidnapping, or even a missing person, from the time frame around which the note was dated. Coupling deductive reasoning with a little bit of luck, Mørck is sure that the answer lies with a family now living in Sweden, and sets off to discover what happened to these two brothers so very long ago.
The primary mystery plot of A Conspiracy of Faith is quite compelling in its setup, but becomes rather routine as the motive behind the kidnapping becomes clear about a third of the way in. Which leads to the most significant drawback to the book, its length. At over 500 pages, it is far, far, far too long. Too long by at least 200 pages. Maybe 300. Carl Mørck is a quite endearing detective and it is a pleasure to follow along on his investigation. (A bit less so his personal life.) His interaction with, and professional relationship with, his staff, Assad and Rose, is frequently entertaining to witness. Part of the problem here, to be sure, is that as delightful as Mørck is, his counterpart, the kidnapper, is stereotypically dull. [Small spoiler alert, though what follows is revealed quite early in the book.] He was abused as a child, and is now extracting his revenge on innocent families. This poorly developed character, coupled with an excessive amount of narrative, drags down an otherwise good crime novel.
Acknowledgment: Penguin Group provided an eARC of A Conspiracy of Faith for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Absent One
Dutton (Hardcover), August 2012
ISBN-13: 9780525952893; ISBN-10: 0525952896
Location(s) referenced in A Conspiracy of Faith: Denmark; Sweden
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A Conspiracy of Faith by Jussi Adler-Olsen — A Carl Mørck, Department Q Mystery
Publication Date: May 2013
List Price: $26.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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