The Marco Effect
In 2011, I received Mercy an ARC by Jussi Adler-Olsen, (title later changed to The Keeper of Lost Causes).
I reviewed it here. It was the first in the series about Department Q, Detective Carl Morck, and his assistant Assad. The book is an excellent example of Nordic Noir, but with some very humorous twists.
The first book gives the background of Department Q and Carl Morck. Morck is a troublesome policeman at best, and in the first novel, he is far from his best. A recent murder investigation left one of his team members dead, another paralyzed, and Morck himself wounded. His former enthusiasm for his job has vanished.
Located in the basement, Dept. Q has (ostensibly) been created to deal with cold cases, but actually the creation of Dept. Q provides an excuse to keep Morck out of the way and gain funds for the department. Morck is happy with this arrangement and fully intends to take advantage of the situation and do as little as possible. Problem: Assad just won't leave those case files alone. It was a great book, sad and terrifying in places and laugh-out-loud or chuckle quietly in others.
I was delighted to receive The Marco Effect through NetGalley and to continue the adventures of Morck and Assad (and I still have to catch up on several more Dept. Q books that I've missed.) In this fifth book, he has another assistant: Rosie, who joins the freaks in the basement and fits right in.
The plot: Marco is fifteen and part of a Rom family of thieves, but he has been unhappy with his situation for some time. The cruelties of his uncle bother him, and when he runs afoul of his Uncle Zola, discovering some terrible secrets, Marco goes on the run to prevent...well, I'd better not say. At any rate, Zola wants Marco silenced at all costs, but Zola isn't the only one who wants Marco dead.
Morck, Assad, and Rosie are working on the cold case of a missing civil servant, and eventually it turns out that Marco knows something about the case. Corruption, embezzlement, and murder--and a fifteen-year-old kid running for his life.
What I liked: I really liked the characters. Adler-Olsen runs the gamut with his characters from the good guys to the bad guys. I love Adler-Olsen's style--he really draws me into both characters and plot. The humor in this one is somewhat less than in the first in the series, but Assad still trumps in this department. Plenty of suspenseful situations.
My only (tiny) complaint concerns Marco's ability to outwit all the forces against him, again and again. It was great for awhile, and I was cheering him on, but an awful lot of the novel focuses on his evasions--of not only Zola's gang, but everyone else who is searching for him, and it is hard to believe that even a brilliant youngster could escape all the evil forces hunting him for so long. The scenes were remarkably suspenseful, but there were too many of them.
Highly recommended. If you like great crime fiction you really should give Jussi Adler-Olsen a try. I'm fixin' to add the ones I've missed to my list y'all--even if I have to pay for them. And you know I don't like to pay for books. I read too many and can't afford it.
Read in Aug.; blog post scheduled for September.
Scandinavian Crime. Sept. 9, 2014. Print length: 496 pages