01 November 2012

More Scandinavian mystery fiction

Dale Stahl wrote as promised because he finished the Jussi Adler-Olsen Department Q novel he'd begun.

Here's what he had to say:
I enjoy Jussi Adler-Olsen's Dept. Q novels. However, I notice a persistent theme among some of these Scandinavian/Northern European-type authors: a tendency toward apocalyptic views of human nature and overcoming obstacles to solve a crime.
[My note to Dale: go watch a couple Ingmar Bergman films.]
Adler-Olsen's main character is Carl Mørck, who is a classic, irascible, irritable guy who is more thoughtful and smarter than everyone else on the detective force. But, he's likable for his human desires, foibles, heart pounding self doubt and limitations. Still, the crime in the first Dept. Q novel, The Keeper of Lost Causes, is so outrageous because of the horrific treatment and torture of the victim, that it is almost beyond believability. If it weren't for the real life treatment of someone like Jaycee Dugard (held captive for 18 years), I might have just thrown the book away. Still, there is something compelling about Mørck and his assistant Assad. In addition, I always find a a novel in which the plot revolves around a cold case or a past event compelling. I liked it and was glad I read it.

Then I got the follow-up book, The Absent One, and was even more irritated by the ridiculous, over-the-top crimes and bad behavior of the gang of suspects: wealthy boarding school kids who delight in sexual promiscuity, violence, and the torture of animals and innocent people. It irritated the hell out of me, yet I am Scandinavian and have just enough pessimism about human nature to believe that there are people out there who are that base and brutal. So, I read the book doggedly to the end, and I will be damned if I don't read the next one.

The finish was absurd, the denouement implausible, but I want to find out if Mørck ever gets to have a relationship with his crush and therapist, Mona. And I want to find out if he ever solves the crime which involved an ambush that killed one of his two best friends and paralyzed the other. That story was begun in the first book.

[Dale seems repelled by the savagery; attracted by the romance and the mystery. Those of us who read murder mysteries (even if they're cozies) have strange motives, don't we]

[Questions: Is it a coincidence that Mørck's assistant has the same name as the former dictator of Syria? And, is it a coincidence that Mankell's detective Wallander has a black lab named Jussi?]

[One answer from a publication "In the Footsteps of Wallander," a tourist brochure from the Ystad (Sweden) Tourist Office: Wallander named "the dog Jussi after the famous mid-20th century Swedish tenor Jussi Björling."]

Have you read anything by Jussi Adler-Olsen? What did you think of it? Write and tell this little bit of the world how you reacted.

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