NB Also published under the title Guilt
The politics of eugenics…
🙂 🙂 🙂 😐
When Rose spots that amongst the old unsolved cases are four that relate to disappearances that all happened at the same time, Carl Mørck and the team begin an investigation that leads them into the murky world of far-right politics and illegal eugenics. Curt Wad’s organisation is now a recognised political party, the Purity Party, but was previously a secret organisation known as the Cause – the cause being to ensure the purity of the race by carrying out forced abortions and sterilisations of girls deemed unfit to be mothers. And it appears that all the missing people were in some way linked to one of the victims, Nete Hermansen.
When Adler-Olsen is writing about the background to the crimes and the crimes themselves, his writing is very strong. He creates a convincing picture of the abuse these young girls suffered at the hands of men and women in positions of authority which allowed them to act with impunity. He attempts to lighten the seriousness of the plot by introducing humour into the sections relating to Carl and the investigation. Unfortunately this didn’t work quite as well for me this time round. The running gag is that everyone in the team is hit with a virus that leads to cold symptoms and upset stomachs. I got very tired very quickly of constant descriptions of dripping noses and diarrhoea. And the quirkiness of Rose and Assad begins to jar as their behaviour becomes such that no police department would tolerate from any of its employees.
Carl remains a likeable character, still juggling with his complicated personal life as well as his crazy employees. In fact, here’s one detective who could be forgiven for taking to drink – thankfully he hasn’t though! Despite my reservations about the credibility of their behaviour, Rose and Assad are still enjoyable, and each of their stories is developed a bit more in this outing. Although Wad is an obvious baddie, the other characters are more complex; the victims are by no means straightforward innocents and the villains might be seen to have had extenuating circumstances. However, on the whole I found it hard to sympathise with any of them, even when I was being shown the abuses they had had to endure.
The plot in this one is interesting, though it’s not particularly complex. The novel is told in two time periods – the present day investigation and the story of the crimes back in 1987. The reader knows who is responsible for the crimes early on, and the reasons are gradually revealed through the sections that are set in the past. The anti-immigrant policies of the Purity Party allowed the author to show us a different, more serious side to Assad and to hint at parts of his past that will presumably be revealed in later books. Towards the end, I found implausibility was creeping in, and the big reveal was somewhat of an anti-climax – so much of the story had been revealed as the book progressed that there was very little element of surprise. And, as I seem to be saying with nearly every book I read at the moment, at 512 pages it’s far too long; there are lots of little sub-plots that don’t really go anywhere or add anything, and serve only to prevent the plot from building any kind of tension.
Overall, while I still found this an enjoyable read, it didn’t quite live up to my hopes for it. I’ll still be interested enough to stick with the series for at least one more book though to see how the characters develop in the next one. Recommended, with some reservations.
NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Penguin Group.