FICTION

The Purity of Vengeance: A Department Q Novel

Dutton. Jan. 2014. 400p. tr. from Danish by Martin Aitken. 9780525954019. $26.95. F
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In 1987, Nete Hermansen's perfect life falls to bits after she runs into an old nemesis, Dr. Curt Wad, who was responsible for her incarceration and sterilization in the 1950s. After their encounter, she plots murderous revenge on him and on others who abused her when she was young and helpless. Decades later, Danish cold-case investigator Det. Carl Mørck and his two oddball assistants Assad and Rose investigate the case of a madam who went missing in the 1980s. They unearth other missing-persons cases around the same time, and all seem tied to Wad.
VERDICT While the other adventures starring Mørck balanced the light and dark well, this fourth installment (after A Conspiracy of Faith) of Adler-Olsen's "Department Q" series is an uneasy mix of comedy (far too much of it bathroom humor) and suspense. Furthermore, the horrors heaped upon Nete and the all-powerful evilness of Wad are over the top. That said, it's hard to put this one down, even when one can predict certain plot twists. Told in alternating chapters that toggle between past and present, protagonist and antagonist, this title still has a lot to offer to fans of Scandinavian procedurals, grumpy heroes, and hilariously dysfunctional workmates. [See Prepub Alert, 7/15/13.]

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