Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen

The Absent One
by Jussi Adler-Olsen
translated by K. E. Semmel
4 stars - even though I didn't finish it
ALR Yellow - brief scenes of animal abuse

I'm making an exception here and giving four stars to a book I just couldn't finish.

This is the second Department O novel about Detective Carl Morck who has been assigned to cold cases. In this one, he responds to a file left on his desk regarding the brutal beating murder of two young people.

As with the first Department O novel, the translation is exquisite, the characters are complex, the playing out of the mystery challenging. Once again, the writing alternates between past and present as we learn more about the crimes themselves in parallel with Detective Morck chasing down clues in the present.

So what's the problem? It's just too icky for me. Way too icky. In this case, the protagonists are a group of privileged youths (now adults) who delight in torture and killing. They've moved their childhood "pleasures" into adulthood, but one of their former comrades is ready to put an end to things. I was happy enough reading the parts where Morck and his associate look for clues and question suspects. But I started to dread the horrific flashbacks and scenes placed in the present that showed what the bad guys were currently up to. Just couldn't take it.


  1. I can understand that. I like a good thriller, but I have to be in the right mood for it. I'm guessing Jo Nesbø is also a little too out there for you? Or was this really over the top?

  2. Understood. The writing must have been exceptional for you to give it 4 stars despite not finishing it.