SOS to the world…
😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
When a bottle is washed up on a beach in Scotland, it is found to contain a message, mostly obliterated by time and damp, but with the Danish word for ‘Help’ still clearly showing at the top. This might have been dismissed as a joke except that the bottle also contains traces of blood. The age of the message marks this as a cold case, so it falls to Copenhagen’s Department Q, Carl Mørck and his team, to investigate. Enough of the message can be deciphered to suggest that it relates to a kidnapping, perhaps worse. But the case isn’t as cold as Carl thinks, as the kidnapper is just about to repeat his crime…
This was my first introduction to Jussi Adler-Olsen and I was very impressed. The story is told in the third person from a variety of viewpoints, and in the past tense. (Hurrah! Am I the only person who’s tired of every second book being in the present tense these days?) The author manages to create a good mix of humour mixed in with some really nail-biting suspense. There are some great action scenes, fast-paced and tense, together with some slower but no less interesting passages where Adler-Olsen lets the reader see inside the heads of the main players. His characterisation is very strong, both of villain and victims, and some of the scenes are quite harrowing, though he steers clear of being too graphic for the most part. Contrasted with this is the humour around the odd mix of people who make up Carl’s team and family. It took me a while to get tuned in to these characters and some of them are undoubtedly a bit too eccentric to be quite realistic. However as I got to know them better, they grew on me – particularly Carl’s main sidekick, his Syrian assistant Assad, who provides much of the book’s humour. Carl himself is of course a bit of a maverick with lots of problems, but he stops well short of the stereotypical angst-ridden drunk, thankfully, and I found him a very likeable lead character.
The translator Martin Aitken has done an excellent job. The gradual deciphering of the message is key to the plot while a lot of the humour is based around Assad’s misuse and misunderstanding of words, but Aitken manages to navigate these issues seamlessly and for once the humour travels very well. In fact, had I not known it was a translation, I’m not sure I would have guessed, which is about the highest praise I can give.
I could criticise some small weaknesses in the book – coincidence comes into play occasionally, some aspects stretch credulity a bit, the ending is perhaps a shade clichéd. But overall I found the book very well written and strongly plotted, and heartily recommend it as an interesting and enjoyable read that held my attention throughout. Although it works well as a standalone, I felt I would have gained from knowing the recurring characters’ back-stories, and will now be adding the earlier books to the ever-growing TBR pile.
(This book has been published in the US under the title ‘A Conspiracy of Faith’, which I must say I think is a much better title for it than ‘Redemption’. Confusingly, it is available under both titles in the UK.)
NB This book was provided for review by the publisher.