Another cold case for the sturdy misfits of Copenhagen’s Department Q, together with two more incomplete blasts from the past for Detective Carl Mørck.
Except for the prostitute who reported her missing, no one much cared when brothel keeper Rita Nielsen vanished back in 1987, and it’s no wonder the case languished. Now, however, the mystery assumes new urgency with the news that she wasn’t the only one to disappear. The very same day, attorney Philip Nørvig, fisherman Viggo Mogensen, womens asylum guard Gitte Charles and do-nothing Tage Hermansen also went AWOL. Furthermore—though it takes Carl, his assistant, Hafez el-Assad, and his secretary, Rose Knudsen, quite a while to work this out—they all had links to Tage’s cousin Nete Hermansen, long immured in a Sprogø home for fallen women, whose second chance at a respectable life was dashed when Dr. Curt Wad, a stalwart of the Purity Party, confronted her and her businessman husband publicly with some sordid details of her past. Adler-Olsen (A Conspiracy of Faith, 2012, etc.) cuts back and forth between the fatal day in 1987 when Nete decided to avenge herself on the people who had ruined her life and the present day, when Carl’s investigation of both Nete and Wad is complicated by rumors that Carl helped his cousin Ronny kill Ronny’s father many years ago and further hints of the horrific fatality that first sent Carl to Department Q. Fans can rest assured that neither of these lesser subplots comes anywhere near closure.
Another accomplished exercise in three-decker suspense, though the climactic twist would be harder to predict if the story had ended 100 pages earlier.