Thursday, January 23, 2014

Book 12: A Conspiracy of Faith

This has definitely been one of my more entertaining reads so far this year.  The third novel in the series, this novel once again features Carl Morck and Department Q of Copenhagen's police force.  Just like in his last two novels, Adler-Olsen flashes back and forth between the cold case squad and either the victims or perpetrators of a current crime that relates to the investigation. One reason I think I like these as much as I do is that unlike many other crime novels, this isn't just about finding the killer before he kills again, but actually about saving current possible victims.
In this case, Carl is alerted when Copenhagen receives correspondence from Scotland.  They have found a message in a bottle, written in Danish, and believe it may require police attention.  As it turns out, that bottle has been sitting in a precinct for about seven years, and was written even earlier than that, but it gets Carl and his team on the case.
Meanwhile, the other chapters tell the story of an unnamed man (or a man with too many names) who is a serial kidnapper.  He targets families in faith based societies that are a bit removed from mainstream (Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.), and then kidnaps their children.  However, since the families know what he looks like, he has to come up with a rather extreme way to prevent them from going to the police after the fact or reporting on him.  As a result, even once Carl is able to place a name to the message in the bottle, he faces resistance from the relatives.
The mystery was very well-developed as well as the various viewpoints, which included the kidnapper, and his wife who is tired of not knowing what her husband does in addition to Carl.  In some senses Carl is still rather dense in his treatment and interactions with his co-workers.  Three novels into the narrative, there are still a few open plot points that I feel either need to be dropped or worked out soon.  For example, there are several clues that there is more to Assad than meets the eye.  While I don't think it is necessary that the whole story is revealed just yet, I think there is too much hinting with no pay off after three novels.  In other words, if Adler-Olsen wants to drag out the reveal, I think he needs to stop playing it up so much, or if he is going to keep playing it up, he needs to give more answers as he goes.  Also, even though Carl has successfully solved a few cases, he is still very uninterested in work sometimes.  While I get the whole grumpy persona, it is obvious that he is a good detective, so it may make sense to not have him attempting to shirk as much anymore as time progresses.  The other hanging string is from his injury, and the reason he was moved in Department Q, all events predating the novels.  I think this is actually being handled perfectly, though I think I'm going to want some resolution on this in the next few novels as well.
Despite those small nitpicks, I'm definitely enjoying this series, and while the last one was a bit dark, especially with the animal abuse, this novel was back to being that great mix of grim and humorous that made me like The Keeper of Lost Causes so much.

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