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Mercy (Afdeling Q #1)

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  40,710 Ratings  ·  3,526 Reviews
'A must-read for every Scandinavian crime fiction fan' Hannoversche Allgemeine

At first the prisoner scratches at the walls until her fingers bleed. But there is no escaping the room. With no way of measuring time, her days, weeks, months go unrecorded. She vows not to go mad. She will not give her captors the satisfaction. She will die first.


Copenhagen detective Carl Mo
Paperback, 506 pages
Published May 2nd 2011 by Penguin (first published 2007)
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Mary Terrific! and the rest of the series is every bit as good, Adler-Olsen is one of the very best!
Mary You don't have to for the detective story, but the characters grow as the series progresses. These are some of the best mysteries I have ever read and…moreYou don't have to for the detective story, but the characters grow as the series progresses. These are some of the best mysteries I have ever read and I wish Adler-Olsen would write more in the series.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Imagine if the brooding detective Kurt Wallander from the Henning Mankell series accidentally wandered into the plot of a Stieg Larsson novel and you’d have a pretty good idea of what this book is like. Unfortunately, we don’t get a new Salander, but we do get a pretty interesting and flawed character in Carl Morck.

Morck is a Danish police detective who survived being shot in the head during an attack that left another detective dead and one paralyzed. While Morck has returned to duty, he’s so
Jeffrey Keeten
Feb 09, 2015 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nordic-noir
”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 ...more
Sherry Roberts
Jan 29, 2013 Sherry Roberts rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So Stieg Larson has drawn me into the world of Scandinavian sleuths. Jussi Adler-Olsen has created a wonderfully weird detective in Carl Morck, who is so damaged mentally that the Copenhagen police department has deep-sixed him in the one-man investigative unit, Department Q. His job is to thaw out cold cases. And he does it brilliantly with the help of a fascinating sidekick, Assad, a Syrian immigrant with a suitcase of mysterious skills. Together they find out what ever happened to a popular p ...more
Jul 11, 2016 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everything can change in an instant.

This seems to be the overwhelming message left by author Jussi Adler-Olsen in his 2007 novel The Keeper of Lost Causes (published in English in 2011 with a translation from Danish by Lisa Hartford).

Everything changed for detective Carl Morck in an instant when he and two colleagues were shot during an investigation. One of his fellow police officers was killed and the other was injured for life in a horrific and traumatic event that has scarred Morck forever a
Aug 14, 2011 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who is he really?

What’s in the Scandinavian Water? There are so many good mysteries appearing by Scandinavian writers recently. Why are they just now being translated into English? I don’t think I’ve run into a better detective duo than Carl, a policeman of many years experience, and his sidekick Assad, who he supposedly hired to clean the office. Assad says he’s an emigrant from Syria where he used to be a taxi driver but he seems to have skills that not many cabbies could claim. He’s able to g
Feb 23, 2013 Jeff marked it as books-i-didn-t-finish  ·  review of another edition
Hey look! Another gruff male detective with a "crazy" ex. I wonder if he's experienced some prior trauma in the line of duty. Oh, he has. I wonder if he's an outcast in his department? Oh, he is. I wonder if he flouts protocol and pushes boundaries? Oh, he does. I wonder if all the female characters are repeatedly defined by their physical appearance or presumed sexuality. Oh, they are. Fantastic! Now I've got something I can recommend to readers who are interested in cliches, sexism and misogyn ...more
Nov 10, 2013 Calli rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm really sorry, it just was not that good. People calling this the next "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" are wrong in a myriad of ways.

First, the writing is just not good. The dialogue is stilted at best and, at times, completely ridiculous. I actually laughed at some of the things the characters said. And they were not supposed to be funny. I don't know how much of this is attributable to the translation, but it needs work. A lot of it.

Second, the protagonist is an asshole. And not a likeable as
Jul 19, 2012 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Nordic thrillers/mysteries
This longish Nordic thriller/mystery delivers a very satisfying read, for the most part. I sometimes wondered if the translation to English added more words. The lead character is the world-weary but brilliant detective Carl Morck who gets relegated to a basement office (Department Q) where he's given one offbeat assistant, Assad. The funny and personable interactions between Carl and Assad are the most interesting parts of the cop narrative. The main plot of the top Danish government official's ...more
May 18, 2011 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, thriller
This one was an unexpectedly fabulous read. I went into it thinking it'd be just one more moody, scandinavian mystery. And it was to some extent. But it was also a suspenseful, sometimes dryly funny effort. And Carl Morck as protagonist was highly appealing.

Carl is a detective with the Copenhagen police. He's returned to work after a shooting that left his partner paralyzed and another colleague dead. Where once he was a hard-charging investigator, now he is having a hard time caring about anyth
Feb 10, 2016 Krbo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
pitko, zanimljivo i zabavno.

Jussi odlično piše, glavni inspektor Carl ima svoj obvezni teret prošlosti što ga čini malo puknutim no tu je i galerija likova koji opuštaju napetost počevši od vrlo neobičnog (i tajnovitog) asistena, Sirijske izbjeglice Assada (naravno, Hafez el-Assad kako bi bilo zanimljivije) to Carlovih podstanara i šašave žene koja ne bi živjela s njim no ne želi ni rastavu.

Zaplet (i rasplet) prvog romana serijala je OK, ništa komplicirano no Jussi drži konce od početka i vrlo d
Mar 28, 2016 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery/thiller lovers
I really enjoyed this one! Loved Carl Morck and his right-hand man, Assad. Not much was revealed about Assad, hopefully will learn more in future books. I had quite a few laugh out loud moments with these two characters. This is a very gripping story about the disappearance (five years prior) of a very popular woman in Demark politics. The case was never solved. Carl Morck is the police officer assigned to head the new Department Q, which looks into cold cases. This is their first case. Looking ...more
Roderick Hart
Apr 14, 2011 Roderick Hart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a crime novel so in this review I have tried not to spoil things for anyone who goes on to read it. It was written in Danish and translated by Tiina Nunally. The translation reads very well. It seems from the inside cover that it may be the first of three, much like the Millenium series, with the second and third volumes due to appear in 2012 and 2013.

Our ‘hero’ is Carl Mørck, a detective who appears to be burned out. Given that one of his colleagues was killed and another left paralysed
Ivonne Rovira
Mar 23, 2015 Ivonne Rovira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ivonne by: Magda Cawthorne
Except for the novels of Norwegian Karin Fossum, I hadn’t read any of the Scandinavian crime fiction that’s all the rage. Not Jo Nesbø, not Henning Mankell, not Maj Sjöwalland Per Wahlöö, not even Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

OK, so I live in a cave.

For that reason, I really can’t compare Jussi Adler-Olsen’s The Keeper of Lost Causes to other Scandinavian crime novels. Are they all this dark? Are their protagonists as curmudgeonly as Adler-Olsen’s Carl Mørck, a police deputy
Jussi Adler-Olsen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1950. Known for his 3 stand-alones (The alphabet House, The Company Basher, and Washington Decree and the famous Department Q novels his popularity in Denmark has finally migrated over to the U.S.

All Department Q novels are set in Denmark and reveal the writings of an author intensely interested in criticizing politics while simultaenously being agnostic to parties in general. Not that this is any great revelation as for the most part politi
S.J. Abbo
Dugo nisam čitala knjige poput ove, i mislim da sam očekivala više!
To, i prevod koji mi se iskreno nije baš preterano dopao (doduše, sada više ni ne znam da li je zaista do prevoda ili je knjiga pisana upravo na taj način) su doprineli tome da ocena ne bude veća.
Mislim da sam želela da vidim više "žene u kavezu", a manje namćorastog inspektora ali onda sam shvatila da knjiga ima još nastavaka, i da je ovo verovatno serija o "namćorastom inspektoru" i da je ovo bio samo jedan od njegovih slučajev
Oct 09, 2015 Jaksen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars, this was a great mystery. Has it all, a great protagonist, horrible villains, a mystery with complex clues, a sidekick who's an immigrant with an intriguing backstory. Very contemporary, almost a thriller. Suspenseful moments, funny moments, and moments that will just make you think.

Carl Morck and two of his colleagues were ambushed at a crime scene. Carl survived, but with injuries and other psychological issues. A bit disillusioned with life, and his job, and fellow detectives, he
4.5 Stars

The deeply flawed chief detective Carl MØrck, who used to be a good homicide detective until a bullet almost took his life. His partners weren't so lucky, and Carl, who didn't draw his weapon, blames himself.

So a promotion is the last thing Carl expects.

Carl's been selected to run Department Q, a new special investigations division that turns out to be a department of one. It is also in the basement, so the chief and his co-workers won't have to deal with him.

The first case he tackles
Nicola Mansfield
Sep 02, 2011 Nicola Mansfield rated it it was amazing
eason for Reading: The plot just screamed "read me!" and I'm a fan of Scandi Crime.

Outstanding! The first chapter had me hooked on the case and the second chapter had me fascinated with the main character, Copenhagen detective Carl Morck. Usually I'm into the serial killer type of crimes but this case involves a kidnapping/missing persons case that is incredibly taut and gripping. Carl Morck has just come back to work after being in a shoot-out where he was injured and each of his two partners w
Dec 26, 2015 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ακόμα ένας συγγραφέας της Σκανδιναβικής Λογοτεχνίας, με το συγγραφέα να είναι από τη Δανία αυτή τη φορά.
Πρωταγωνιστής είναι ο Καρλ, ένας αστυνομικός που πρόσφατα έχασε την ομάδα του σε πυροβολισμούς και επέστρεψε από αναρρωτική άδεια. Οι συνάδελφοί του βρήκαν αφορμή να τον ξαποστείλουν (δεν τον συμπαθούσαν ιδιαίτερα βλέπετε) και τον έστειλαν να συγκροτήσει μόνος του τον τομέα Q, ένα νεοσύστατο τομέα που συγκρότησε η κυβέρνηση και σκοπό είχε να ανοίξει παλιές υποθέσεις που είχαν μπει στο αρχείο.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I liked this enough on a book speed dating project that I decided to finish it. I was originally inspired to read it because one of the guests on my podcast, Ann VanderMeer herself, said that this author is one of her favorites.

First books in crime series can be difficult. In between solving a crime, the author has to introduce the setting that will continue through, as well as the major characters. Carl Mørck starts the book in a difficult situation - he used to be a successful homicide detecti
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 ...more
aPriL is  often off-leash and feral
When you start the first page of ‘The Keeper of Lost Causes’, start the first bag of microwave popcorn to cook as well. By the time the second bag of popcorn is ready to eat, so will this book be ready to entertain.

Carl Morck is a good detective, but he no longer has people skills in the current time, 2007, not that that was his personal strength in the first place. Instead, he possesses an intuitive ability combined with a dogged methodology in the art of detecting honed by 25 years on the Cope
The Keeper of Lost Causes is the first in a new series by Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen. It belongs to a genre that I was calling Scandinavian thrillers but have recently heard described as "Nordic Noir." I can't imagine a more perfect label for this work (and works by other favorite authors of mine such as Jo Nesboe, Karin Fossum, Arnaldur Indriðason, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, and Henning Mankell).

Carl Mork is a detective who has been on leave since he and his partners were attacked while i
I often get worried when I pick up this Scandinavian crime novel but I recently read The Dinner and I thought I might try another Dutch author; turns out this was a Danish novel. Mercy is the first book in the series by Jussi Adler-Olsen which has been marketed for people that enjoy the show The Killing as well as Scandinavian Crime. I love this show so I wanted to give this book ago; well actually I picked up Disgrace and realised it was book two in the series so I thought I better read them in ...more
Cora Tea Party Princess

5 Words: Brutal, slow, intense, horrific, blah.

I didn't enjoy this at all to start. I wasn't so keen on the narrator and I wasn't keen at all on Carl. But then we were introduced to Merete and I couldn't put it down.

But my, is it a long listen.

I didn't like Carl and the way he consistently objectified women and belittled them for not falling at his feet. It actually made me feel sick and is absolutely NOT what I want from a main protagonist.

The scenes with Merete were pretty brutal. I l
πραγματική έκπληξη!ένας άγνωστος σε μένα Σκανδιναβός συγγραφέας,από τον Λιβάνη,του οποίου δεν συμπαθώ τις εκδόσεις,μου χάρισε απολαυστικές στιγμές ανάγνωσης με αυτό το βιβλίο!λάτρεψα τον ήρωα,κι άλλο τόσο διασκέδασα με τον βοηθό του, και διάβασα με κομμένη ανάσα τις τελευταίες 100 σελίδες...ακόμη κ αν είχα ήδη καταλήξει στον ένοχο και τη σύνδεσή του με το παρελθόν του θύματος,από τα μισά του βιβλίου,αυτό καθόλου δεν στέρησε την χαρά της ανάγνωσης...θέλω κι άλλο!
Εννοείται οτι οι φαν του σκανδιναβ
Apr 24, 2015 Brenda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my April Book Pal's choice and it was a good one! I really enjoyed this book! Carl and Assad are a great pair. Assad is a character I want to know more about. I liked that part of the story was told from Merete's point of view. This was my first book by Jussi Adler-Olsen and I'm looking forward to more.
switterbug (Betsey)
This book had been gathering dust on my shelf since it was published. I was persuaded to read it now because the follow-up book, THE ABSENT ONE, is set for release in a few months. What a sleeper of a nightmare of a dream of a book! I started it one day and finished it the next. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough, and haven't had this much skin-prickling enjoyment/engagement with a police procedural/suspense thriller since Tana French's books. You don't have to typically like this "genre" bec ...more
Sam Woodfield
I have just reviewed this novel for a major UK book seller.

This novel took me a little while to get into, and at first I was a little worried about where this novel would go. However, this novel is proof that first impressions can be deceptive as this novel grows and grows into an absolute dazzler.

Alder-Olsen has created a fabulous first novel in Mercy. The characters of Carl and Assad are beautifully created so that they grow and grow throughout the novel, but there is still plenty of growing t
Jun 11, 2013 Katy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of thrillers/suspense
Recommended to Katy by: Vine
Please Note: I read and reviewed this book in September, 2011 from a copy received from Amazon Vine.

My Thoughts and synopsis: Olsen is Denmark’s #1 crime writer, and this book – the first to be released in America, and the first in the Department Q series – makes it quite evident why. His writing style flows smoothly, keeping the pace of the story moving along while providing back story and strong characterization. His main character, Carl, the head of Department Q, is an acerbic and difficult m
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Author Jussi Adler-Olsen (b. 1950) began in the 1990s to write novels after having followed a comprehensive career as publisher, editor, film composer for the Valhalla-cartoon and as bookseller.
He made his debut with the thriller “Alfabethuset” (1997), which reached bestseller status both in Denmark and internationally just like his subsequent novels “And She Thanked the Gods” (prev. “The Company
More about Jussi Adler-Olsen...

Other Books in the Series

Afdeling Q (7 books)
  • The Absent One (Department Q, #2)
  • Flaskepost fra P (Afdeling Q, #3)
  • Journal 64 (Afdeling Q, #4)
  • Marco Effekten (Afdeling Q, #5)
  • The Hanging Girl (Department Q, #6)
  • Selfies (Afdeling Q, #7)

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“But promises based on ignorance always prove disappointing.” 8 likes
“Carl sent a message from his brain to his hands that it was still illegal to strangle people.” 2 likes
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