A Danish banking scam whose tentacles extend to Cameroon spells trouble for Department Q’s Carl Mørck and a young boy who gets caught in the crossfire.
It’s true: The coverup is always worse than the original problem. If only William Stark hadn’t gotten suspicious about the ostensibly gibberish text message a Bantu development officer sent from Cameroon just before he vanished, René E. Eriksen, his boss at the Evaluation Department for Developmental Assistance, wouldn’t have had to send him off to Africa to investigate or assented to a shadowy banker's order to have him murdered on his return. And if only Marco Jameson, a teenage beggar hiding from his uncle Zola, who planned to have him maimed to increase his daily take, hadn’t taken refuge in Stark’s grave, Zola wouldn’t be sending his young corps fanning out all over Copenhagen to find the boy before he can lead the police to the body Zola buried himself. Now Marco is frantically on the run. Eriksen and his old schoolmate and co-conspirator, banker Teis Snap, are headed for a major falling-out. And Carl, who’d be perfectly happy investigating the houseboat fire that claimed the life of Minna Virklund, wouldn’t have been sucked into a series of coverup murders that threaten to go on forever. These are already tough times for Carl. His girlfriend, psychologist Mona Ibsen, heads off his marriage proposal by breaking up with him; Marcus Jacobsen, the generally supportive head of Copenhagen Homicide, has abruptly retired; and the new acting head, deputy commissioner Lars Bjørn, has saddled Carl with Gordon Taylor, a rookie still in law school, to ride herd on Department Q’s expenses, ruin Carl’s interrogations and report every minor infraction back to his patron. So all parties concerned can expect major drama.
If a scene works, Adler-Olsen never minds reprising it two or three times with minor variations. The result is a tale as big and sprawling as Carl’s first four cases (The Purity of Vengeance, 2013, etc.) but more diffuse, more like a TV miniseries than a feature film.