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Erbarmen: Thriller by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Erbarmen: Thriller (original 2007; edition 2009)

by Jussi Adler-Olsen, Hannes Thiess (Übersetzer)

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2,0861433,168 (4.03)243
Carl Mørk’s letzter Einsatz endete tragisch, ein Kollege ist tot, der Andere sitzt im Rollstuhl. Seitdem ist er traumatisiert und hat schwere Schuldgefühle, die auch seine Arbeitshaltung verschlechtern. Seine Kollegen und Vorgesetzen meiden ihn schon länger, als eine neue Sondereinheit gebildet wird, ist ihre Chance gekommen, ihn ohne großes Aufsehe abzuschieben. Mørk wird Leiter des neuen Dezernats Q, das sich mit ungeklärten Verbrechen beschäftigt.

Anfangs ist er gelangweilt und alles andere als erpicht darauf, sich den Fällen zu widmen, doch sein neuer Assistent Assad bringt Schwung in die Sache. Sie stoßen auf die Akte der Abgeordneten Merete: Sie verschwand vor etlichen Jahren vom Deck eines Schiffes und ward nie mehr gesehen. Der Fall Merete wird zum ersten Fall für das Dezerenats Q.

Das Buch lebt vor allem durch seine fein gezeichneten Charaktere. Carl, ein ehrlich gesagt eher unsympathischer Kerl, bekommt durch den fröhlichen, herzlichen Assad einen perfekten Gegenpol.

Olsen schreibt durchgängig flüssig und fesselnd, durch häufiges Wechseln der Perspektive bleibt die Geschichte in Schwung. Stets glaubwürdig führt der Autor die Handlungsstränge zusammen und präsentiert eine gelungene, in sich schlüssige Auflösung. Diese war zwar bereits zu erahnen, das mindert das Lesevergnügen aber in keinster Weise.

Olsens Debütroman ist für Krimifans uneingeschränkt empfehlenswert und macht große Hoffnungen auf den Folgeband, der für September 2010 angekündigt ist. ( )
  TheAlice | Feb 19, 2010 |
English (113)  Dutch (15)  German (6)  Spanish (3)  Danish (2)  French (2)  Catalan (2)  All languages (143)
Showing 1-25 of 113 (next | show all)
It should be enough to say that I read it in one day. That I liked it as much as a Stieg Larsson book. That the lead character was a detective so loveable he reminded me of John Rebus in Ian Rankin's novels. That the last hundred or so pages could not go fast enough, just to see what was going to happen. And the sidekick should have his own TV series. Is that enough ? ( )
  lauri804 | Apr 21, 2016 |
A problematic detective, appointed to lead a new, good-for-nothing department, and his Syrian refugee aid successfully solve the case of an MP disappeared five years ago. Great characters, good story, looking forward to the next book. ( )
  TheCrow2 | Apr 11, 2016 |
A gripping Danish police cold-case procedural. An excellent debut; I'm looking forward to reading more of Department Q! ( )
  stevebishop | Apr 2, 2016 |
unusal story, didn't like the narrator's fake Danish accent ( )
  Claudia.Anderson | Feb 7, 2016 |
What a slow start! If this wasn't a book club read I may have put it aside, but am glad that I didn't. Carl and Assad made a great team and Merete and Uffe are together again. All is right with the world and a perfect ending for the next in the series. 3.5* because of the slow beginning. ( )
  ccindyy | Feb 3, 2016 |
What a slow start! If this wasn't a book club read I may have put it aside, but am glad that I didn't. Carl and Assad made a great team and Merete and Uffe are together again. All is right with the world and a perfect ending for the next in the series. 3.5* because of the slow beginning. ( )
  ccindyy | Feb 3, 2016 |
I am giving this one 4 stars based on the fact that I could not put it down. It is fast paced and the characters are intriguing. I had a little trouble with Carl's overactive, if unrequited, libido, but that was minor.

In comparing this to Stieg Larsson's "Dragon Tattoo" trilogy, I appreciated that there was just as much drama, mystery, and reader-stress without the violent and sadistic sexual component that Larsson's books contained.

The characters were excellent. Carl is intriguing as a seasoned cop with plenty of baggage. I can't wait to find out more about Assad, Carl's assistant, and his dark Syrian past. Will Hardy be present in subsequent books? Will he ever walk again? Did Jepson pass his math finals?

I will definitely read more in this series, and highly recommend it. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
Morck is the keeper of lost causes, the head of the newly-formed Department Q which deals with cold cases. He has one assistant for cleaning and clerical work who surprisingly ends out being a great detective. Morck decides, at random, to investigate the disappearance of a beautiful politician. This is a great mystery: complicated plot, suspense, backstory for the victim, mysterious backstory for the investigators, and fully developed characters you care about. All the converging stories are threaded throughout for a long but fast read.

I will definitely read more in this series. ( )
  Connie-D | Jan 17, 2016 |
This is the first installment in the Department Q series. When police detective Carl Morck comes back to work after a shooting that left his two partners dead and crippled respectively, he finds it very difficult to get along with the other detectives on the force. When Department Q is established to investigate cold cases, this is the perfect opportunity for the police chief to keep Carl's disruptive presence in check. Set up out of the way with only one Syrian refugee as assistant to do menial tasks, nobody expects much to come of this new department and the money spoken for it is mostly put to use adding detectives to the regular force. But Assad has a wealth of unexpected talents and with his enthusiasm he slowly pulls Carl into investigating their first case: the disappearance five years earlier of a high profile woman politician while on a ferry. The case was dropped without clear conclusion due to the absence of a body.

At first I thought this would be another of those depressing Scandinavian crime stories I just could not get into. But as Carl Morck's interest in the case rose, so did mine. I very much liked the interaction between the various characters, especially between Carl and his old boss over the setup of the new department and between Carl and Assad as they slowly deal with cultural and personal differences. The characters and the slow revelation of the backstory as the investigation progresses make this a highly enjoyable read. Only the resolution was a bit rushed; I would have wanted to know a bit more about the how. Looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

(read in German)"" ( )
  sushicat | Jan 14, 2016 |
Adrenalico, lettura consigliata agli amanti del genere.Originale la prigione. ( )
  Angela.Me | Nov 9, 2015 |
verything changes when Carl demands an assistant. He gets a lot more than he bargained for--a Muslim named Assad who is a jack-of-all trades: Assad dons rubber gloves to clean thoroughly, makes bad coffee, drives like a madman, and acts like a Syrian Sherlock Holmes. Carl is content to put his feet up, smoke cigarettes, and do little or nothing, but Assad digs into the case files. He shows an amazing aptitude for locating valuable nuggets of information, gaining cooperation from secretaries and bureaucrats, and goading Carl into acting like a detective. This unlikely duo soon become obsessed with an extremely challenging cold case--the disappearance five years earlier of Merete Lynggaard, a beautiful, talented, and dedicated up-and-coming politician. ( )
  cjordan916 | Oct 12, 2015 |
this was an incredibly fast read for me, for a book of this size and content. (to be fair, i was rushed to finish it, but never thought i had a chance to read a book this thick and full of so much stuff in less than 24 hours.) at the very beginning - just the first few pages, not counting the prologue, which is short and tight - i thought the writing was a bit clunky, but thought it might just be the translation. the rest of the book i felt was well done. i liked the way it developed and it really kept me interested as it alternated between points of view and time period. i think it's an excellent start to a series that i'd be happy to continue reading, even while i didn't love (or hate) any of the characters. everyone is well drawn enough, with an arc that makes progress in this book and that i assume continues to develop in the next books. this is a very good first book. ( )
  elisa.saphier | Sep 23, 2015 |
Amazing work. Loved the array of characters and locale. My ancestral homeland. ( )
  Donura1 | May 5, 2015 |
I really want to give this book five stars. It is one of those books that pulls the reader in and and makes him reluctant to close the cover when the last page has been read. The characters are delightful. Carl Mørck is a deputy detective superintendent who has just returned to duty after recovering from a shooting which cost one partner his life and left the other paralyzed. The n antisocial Mørck is promoted to a dingy office in the basement, where his only assignment is to read and work unsolved cases. His only staff is Hafez el-Assad, a janitor who has recently immigrated from Syria and clearly aspires to do more for Carl than mop up. The relationship between Carl and Assad is one of the most entertaining that I have read in fifty years of reading crime fiction.

The crime itself is a brutal one involving kidnapping and torture that is truly painful to imagine. The problem with the book is a minor one but it still prevents me giving it the five stars I'd like to give it is that the mystery isn't all that mysterious. Even so, I still enjoyed the book a lot and will be quick to read more books in the Department Q series. I'm also looking forward to being able to watch the movie version. ( )
  Unkletom | Mar 25, 2015 |
Hooray for a new Scandinavian detective series! This one is set in Denmark, allegedly the happiest country in the world after Bhutan, but it's still pretty dark. The book cover is a blatant ripoff of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but the main character here is a sexist and difficult detective who is in recovery from a shooting where one of his partners was killed and one paralyzed. Carl Morck holds himself responsible for the killer's escape. Because he's impossible to work with but effective, he gets banished to the basement and to a new Department Q for cold cases that remain politically hot. His admin Assad is a man of mystery who proves to have skills beyond cooking spicy MidEastern food and cleaning. Their first case is that of a politician, Merete Lynggaard, who has been missing for almost five years and who also has a dreadful life altering event in her background. The suspense level starts low and ratchets up steadily, building to a most satisfying outcome and to the next in the Department Q series. I can't wait! ( )
1 vote froxgirl | Mar 9, 2015 |
This is the first in a series of "Department Q" Danish police procedurals. Carl Mørck, is a deputy detective superintendent who been is relegated to the basement in an office where it is deemed he'll be no trouble. And at first he wants nothing more than to put his feet up and do nothing. When he learns the department was getting a windfall by creating this department of "lost causes" he uses that knowledge to his advantage to get an assistant and nice digs. Carl has a history of his own. He was involved in a shootout that killed one of his partners and paralyzed the other.

Assad, his assistant, a Muslim and another cast-off, seems to be always one step ahead. He’s a delightful character. They are tasked with investigating the disappearance, ostensibly a drowning, of a prominent political leader. This was the part I found totally implausible: a woman kept in a chamber for five years in which the atmospheric pressure is being gradually increased. She is fed through an airlock and tries to retain her sanity. The story that gradually unfolds concerns an intricate plot to get revenge for something that had happened years before..

It took me a while to get into this book, and I must say it was only the quirkiness of the main characters that kept me going. Perhaps it was the structure I found annoying, but the book became more intriguing as it progressed. I’ll try another in the series, but we’ll just have to see.

Note: AKA The Keeper of Lost Causes. ( )
  ecw0647 | Feb 14, 2015 |
In 2002, Merete Lynggaard, a prominent Danish politician, went missing on a car ferry from Denmark to Germany. She left behind her younger brother, Uffie, who had not spoken for 15 years, since an automobile accident they were involved in took their parents’ lives. Merete hasn’t been heard from since and it is presumed she went overboard and drowned.

In 2007, unpopular Police Detective Carl Morck was involved in a shooting in which one of his partners died and the other is in critical condition, probably paralyzed for life. Upon his return from medical leave, his boss Marcus Jacobsen couldn’t figure out what to do with him. Luckily, Parliament granted the police department an appropriation to create a department to re-examine cold cases, Department Q. Locate it in the basement which would minimize the risk of Morck interacting with other policemen and it would be a perfect place for Morck who can be abrasive at times.

Forced to chose a case to work on, Morck and his Syrian assistant Hafez al-Assad, unintentionally pick the Lynggaard disappearance–high profile and never solved. Morck initially shows no interest in the case but as Assad uncovers interesting information, Morck begins a real investigation.

Of course the officer who handled the initial call was the bumbling Bak. And, of course, Morck and Assad find many avenues of inquiry never pursued during the initial investigation.

Adler-Olsen has created a good detective in Morck and his comical sidekick Assad. Morck is the Danish version of the chain smoking brooding cop we’ve all come to know and love in American crime fiction. He’s estranged from his wife who lives in a cottage next door. His stepson lives upstairs and sponges off Morck and he’s got a finicky tenant who lives in the basement.

The Keeper of Lost Causes has an interesting premise which I won’t tell you about since it will spoil the fun. Adler-Olsen does go back and forth between 2002 and 2007 but that merely enhances the plot. Readers will be guessing until almost the end about ‘who done it’.

Although I enjoyed The Keeper of Lost Causes and would read the next book in this 5 book series, I did find it a slower read than most mysteries, even the other Nordic translations I’ve read. Possibly a little tighter editing might have helped, but all in all, it’s a good series. ( )
1 vote EdGoldberg | Jan 19, 2015 |
I read this book as a way of dipping my toes into Nordic Noir. I enjoyed the main character, and especially his sidekick, Assam. But the description of what was happening to the kidnapped victim were really dark for me. It will be interesting to follow what happens with Dept Q in the future. ( )
  Pmaurer | Jan 8, 2015 |
Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

This is the first book in Jussi Alder-Olsen's Q-series concerning Danish police detective Carl Morck. I have to admit, I always liked reading Scandinavian detectives a lot. But after years of reading them, I grew a bit tired. Had they first been very new and not as cliché as most US/UK detectives, I got very used to the Scandinavian theme as well.

But this book was different, I really enjoyed it. It was an easy read, but very nice and with a lot of suspense in it.

That cage really was terrifying!

I've ever since reading this book planned to read the rest of this series, but so far, I've only read the second book. ( )
  Floratina | Jan 4, 2015 |
After reading the second book out of order, I was disgusted by its extreme violence and vowed not to read other books in the series. But the siren song of my apartment building's donation library called to me, and I picked up this first book with the hope of learning more about the interesting police detectives who solve these cold cases.

On the plus side, the violence was slightly more bearable, and the back stories of the police staff were great. Unfortunately, however, the mystery itself was predictable. The "shocking twistl" was obvious early on, and it made me cynical about the investigative capabilities of both the initial police team and the second, Department Q staff. If I picked up on it that early, they should have, too.

I have changed my tune and will likely keep reading books in this series, which are bound to appear because as the writer states, "Since time immemorial, human beings had always transformed the suffering of fellow humans into entertainment. Each stratum of human history had revealed an infinitely thick layer of callousness. And the sediment forming new layers was constantly piling up..." ( )
  librarianarpita | Dec 21, 2014 |
I've read MERCY (aka THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES) by Jussi Adler-Olsen twice now and finally I think I've got it the review straight in my head.

Why twice? The first time I read this book was right in the middle of a series of releases based around the woman locked in the basement scenario, and frankly, I was pissed off. Even though I really felt that this gross generalisation wasn't fair in the case of MERCY, this scenario had annoyed me so badly, objectiveness had become a real problem. So why reread and why now? Well a movie came out, and there were a lot more books in the Department Q series that I've been keen to try so a little reconsideration was required.

Based around the concept of cold cases, Carl Mørck is back with the Copenhagen Police Department, after six months sick leave recovering from being shot on duty. His colleague wasn't so lucky, still in hospital, paralysed and suffering.

Mørck has always been a difficult person to get on with and because of that the opportunity is taken to sideline him into “Department Q” the cold case unit. In the basement, where hopefully the lack of resources, and one suspects a general lack of oxygen / visibility get through to Mørck that he's not the most popular person. Which seems to be working on one level as he grudgingly shows up and spends most of his time solving Sudoko puzzles and playing games with the powers that be. Unfortunately one game – his demand for an assistant means he's lumbered with Hafez el-Assad, man who very much wants to be an investigator and doesn't agree that Department Q is the pits. When he finds something in the file on the disappearance of politician Merete Lynggaard, Mørck finds himself actually investigating something.

Alternating the viewpoints between the investigation and Lynnggaard in captivity brings an immediacy to the search. Whilst investigators have no idea if she is alive or dead, the reader knows she is, knows her state of mind, and knows her abductors are nearby.

With a clearer viewpoint of this concept there are obvious differences here – Lynggaard isn't being held as a sex slave or as a plaything of a nutter, but the reason she is being held isn't clear. And the cruelty and dispassionate behaviour of her abductors is staggering, uncomfortably so. As is the distress and the worry that everyone has for the brother she's left out in the real world. Badly equipped to handle it, he has an acquired brain injury as a result of the car accident that killed their parents when they were children. His suffering is as palpable as hers.

Aside from the difference that's now obvious – that this isn't an opportunistic tale of a woman in a basement after all, and add in the great characters of the investigators and this is really a strong opening book. The grumpiness of Mørck and the intelligence and compassion of Assad make them a great team. Having said that, grumpiness isn't the defining quality of Mørck when you're paying attention – there's a lot more to this story than greets the initial eye.

I have no explanation at all as to why I didn't see that the first time around, but I'm profoundly relieved that I had the sense to leave MERCY in the pile – knowing there was something wrong with my initial reaction but not able to articulate it.

http://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/review-mercy-jussi-adler-olsen ( )
  austcrimefiction | Oct 30, 2014 |
excellent, even though there's a big element of psychological thriller/torture that I usually can't tolerate. Karl Moll (? sp) and his new assistant, Hafaz el Assad (?sp) are so compleling.. ( )
  DavidO1103 | Oct 21, 2014 |
Very enjoyable, but unfortunately, the ending was easy to predict. ( )
  ScribbleKey | Jul 1, 2014 |
I don't as a general rule read police procedural or gritty crime novels. I watch them on TV but usually I don't read them. My attention is prone to wander when a crime novel gets bogged down in details that don't interest me. Having finally gotten around to reading the Stieg Larsson Millennium Trilogy last year, I can see where some novels of this type has a certain appeal. While Larsson and Adler-Olsen each place their own stamp on the crime novels they have written, they do have similarities that made it easy for me to make a side-by-side comparison of their first books. One characteristic both books share is the focus on the person and not the process. My preference is to read about complex characters and not the actual nitty-gritty of police work. Adler-Olsen provides my psychologically-driven mind with enough information to keep my mind in analysis mode regarding Carl's very dark and moody persona and his damaged past while at the same time providing a rather entertaining assistant in Assad, a political-refugee immigrant with a mysterious past of his own.

Adler-Olsen takes his time in framing his characters and the crime for the reader. The reveals are gradual, one piece of information at a time, and the story progresses at a more moderate, dare I say, sedate pace. Now, I like a story that has a slow build and takes it time with me. It makes it a lot easier for me to read the book in intervals spread out over time and not feel as thought I have to backtrack and refresh my memory when I do come back to it. I also like stories that are a bit of a mental puzzle to figure out. If I were to compare book one of the Larsson trilogy with this first book in a series I would have to say that while I prefer Larsson's characters, in particular the enigmatic Lisbeth Salander, Adler-Olsen has provided a better crime puzzle, IMO, to mentally analyze and figure out. For me, reading [The Keeper of Lost Causes] fit into my comfort zone as a read because I found it to be an interesting blending of the Larsson books with one of my favorite British TV series New Tricks, a cop show that follows the work of the fictional Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad for the London Metropolitan Police as they investigate old unsolved crimes.

For those of you who haven't already read this one, the ending makes the rather slow pace of the story worth while. Adler-Olsen has also left a lot of unfinished business as it relates to Carl Mørck, a character I admit to having difficulties to warm up to. While I wasn't riveted to the story, I found it to be a very satisfying read and I will continue with the series as I want to see how things progress in Department Q with Carl and Assad.

Best of all, this one contains the following fantastic book quote:

"She'd been lying on the floor thinking about books. That was something she often did in order not to think about the life she might have had, if only she'd made different choices. When she thought about books, she could move into a whole different world. Just remembering the feeling of the dry surface and inexplicable roughness of the paper could ignite a blaze of yearning inside of her. The scent of evaporated cellulose and printer's ink. Thousands of times now she'd sent her thoughts into her imaginary library and selected the only book in the world that she knew she could recall without embellishing it. It was not the one she wanted to remember, not even the one that had made the greatest impression on her. But it was the only book that had remained completely intact in her tortured memory because of the liberating bursts of laughter she associated with it.

A great big smile came to my face when the I discovered what book was being referred to by this quote. ( )
1 vote lkernagh | May 10, 2014 |
I liked this book. The writing was descriptive and fast paced. As far as thrillers go, this was a good one. ( )
  janismack | Apr 8, 2014 |
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