The shadow murders

Jussi Adler-Olsen

Large print - 2022

"On her sixtieth birthday, a woman commits suicide. When the case lands on Detective Carl Mørck's desk, he can't imagine what this has to do with Department Q, Copenhagen's cold cases division. It's a tragedy to be sure, but the cause of death seems to be clear. But his superior, Marcus Jacobsen, is convinced that this is not in fact a suicide, but a murder related to an unsolved case that has been plaguing him since 1988. At Marcus's behest, Carl and the Department Q gang--Rose, Assad, and Gordon--reluctantly begin to investigate. However, they quickly discover that Marcus is on to something: Every two years for the past three decades, there have been unusual, impeccably timed deaths with connections between ...them that cannot be ignored. As they dig deeper, it becomes clear that these "accidents" are in fact murders by a very cunning and violent serial killer. Faced with their toughest case yet, made only more difficult by COVID-19 restrictions and the challenges of their own personal lives, the Department Q team must race to find the culprit before the next murder is committed, as it is becoming increasingly clear that the killer is far from finished"--

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1st Floor LARGE PRINT/MYSTERY/Adler-Olsen, Jussi Due Jul 26, 2024
Detective and mystery fiction
Thrillers (Fiction)
New York : Random House Large Print [2022]
Main Author
Jussi Adler-Olsen (author)
Other Authors
William Frost, 1978- (translator)
First large print edition
Physical Description
607 pages (large print) ; 23 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

As Copenhagen battles a surge of COVID-19 cases, Carl Mørck and the Copenhagen police's cold-case squad, Department Q (introduced in The Keeper of Lost Causes, 2007) uncover a strange clue that connects dozens of old death investigations. Every two years for decades, an unexplained pile of table salt has been found at the death scenes of people accused of predatory behavior. While the team digs for the killer's motive, COVID shutdowns require them to take on fresh cases, and their investigation of a vigilante's murder reveals a journal documenting a cult zealously bent on punishing immorality. Instinctively, the team is drawn toward the possible connection to the serial cases, but are they chasing a red herring? As they connect the dots, their killer kidnaps a reality TV tycoon, and the race is on to stop the next execution. Adler-Olsen deftly applies story-propelling pressure to the investigation: while their killer is counting down to the next kill, shutdowns restrict the team's movement and resources, and Mørck is implicated in a drug-trafficking case he thought he'd left in the past. This nail-biter offers the best of everything Department Q thrillers promise: compelling team rapport, boots-on-the-ground detection, masterful story construction, and a cliffhanger ending. Readers reluctant to depart gritty Copenhagen should also check out Sara Blaedel's procedurals

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Opening teases don't get much more tantalizing than in bestseller Adler-Olsen's stellar ninth Department Q novel featuring Copenhagen's cold-case division (after 2020's Victim 2117). In 1982, six college students are killed by a bolt of lightning; an injured woman tells a first responder, with a creepy smile, that her survival means that she can survive anything, "with God's help." In 1988, when Maja Petersen goes to retrieve her car from an auto shop, along with her three-year-old son, the garage explodes, killing the child along with five men. In 2020, homicide chief Marcus Jacobsen asks his best investigator, Carl Mørck, to revisit the explosion after Maja dies by suicide. Both men were on the scene at the time, and Jacobsen has always felt there were some unresolved questions about the explosion. Those suspicions have been revived by the suicide and Jacobsen's noting an anomaly in the official reports that he'd previously missed: someone, for some reason, left a three-inch pile of kitchen salt near the entrance to the garage. Their digging reveals other cases where such a pile was left. The climax lives up to the promise of the brilliant opening, cleverly connecting all the plotlines. Christopher Fowler fans will be riveted. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Why is Department Q, the cold cases division of the Copenhagen police, investigating a current suicide? Because Det. Carl Mørck's superior is convinced that there's a connection to a mysterious death dating to 1988, and the initially skeptical Qers soon find echoes in a string of odd deaths since then. The penultimate title in the "Department Q" series from Barry and Glass Key winner Adler-Olsen.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Department Q, the cold case division of the Copenhagen Police, races to prevent the latest in a series of vigilante killings of seriously bad people. Have you ever watched your fellow citizens casually flout laws designed for the common good and wished you could take revenge? Someone's assembled a crack team of female avengers whose mission is to execute "due diligence" on your behalf. Reading about the recent suicide of Maja Petersen reminds Chief of Homicide Marcus Jacobsen of the 1988 explosion that leveled Ove Wilder's Auto, a repair shop that routinely cheated its unwitting clients, and killed Maja's son, Max--not to mention the owner and three employees who were discovered inside. The body count may seem high, but it's only the beginning, for news that a sharp-eyed technician spotted a pile of table salt outside the shop's entrance gate all those years ago moves Chief Inspector Carl Mørck to ask Rose Knudsen to search the records for other salt-seasoned killings no one has thought to link together, and his team ultimately unearths a total of 16 candidates, one every other year, each of them perpetrated on the birthday of a notorious dictator. As the anniversary of Mao Zedong's birth looms on Dec. 26, the members of Department Q struggle to identify not only potential suspects, but potential victims, unaware that exploitative reality TV show producer Maurits van Bierbek has already been kidnapped and hidden in a secret lair in preparation for the big day. Just to make matters more interesting, newly discovered evidence suddenly implicates Carl in a 15-year-old drug case, and Jacobsen himself leads the charge for his arrest. Proof that there are indeed tsunamis in Denmark. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

1 MAJA Tuesday, January 26, 1988 Twenty-six days into the new year, a harsh winter unexpectedly hit the country with biting winds and unusually low temperatures below zero. When Maja saw the blanket of ice spreading across the backyard of her residential complex, she sighed deeply. This was the third year in a row she would have to change to winter tires, but, because it was just after Christmas this time, there was no way she could afford to have her usual mechanic change them. Luckily, an auto-repair shop had placed attention-grabbing ads in the local newspaper for a lightning-fast, effective, and super-cheap tire service-and as the shop was even closer to her son's nursery in Sydhavnen, she decided to give them a try. This was the reality of being a single mother. You had to make money stretch. The owner of the combined auto-body-finish and repair shop, Ove Wilder's Auto, was masculine and trustable, an archetype of the sort of man who has grown up with his strong arms buried deep in a car engine. Maja gave a sigh of relief. Everything would be okay. "We'll just check that all is in order," he said, and nodded to a couple of mechanics who were pointing a flashlight underneath a car raised on a lift. "It should be ready in a couple of hours. We're a bit busy, as you can see." No more than forty-five minutes later, she received a call at work. That was nice and quick, she thought happily when she heard the voice of the man from the repair shop. But then her smile faded. "I'm afraid this will be complicated," he said. "We noticed that the rear summer tires are worn unevenly, so we thought something was wrong with the wheel suspension. But the problem is actually with your rear-axle housing, or rear shaft, as some people call it. And that's a whole different story." Maja clenched the receiver. "Rear shaft? But you can weld it, right?" He sounded serious. "Let's see, but I'm afraid you shouldn't get your hopes up because it's very corroded. It probably needs to be changed." Maja took a deep breath. She did not even dare think how expensive that would be. "I'll pop by after I pick up my son from nursery," she said, and noted how her hand on the desk had started shaking. How was she supposed to pay? And how was she supposed to do without the car if . . . ? "You'll pop by, you said? Okay, then. We close at five," he replied dryly. Children in snowsuits are time-consuming, so Maja had her heart in her throat as she finally rushed off with Max in his stroller to the repair shop just after five. She let out a sigh of relief when she saw the open gate at the end of the street and her car protruding slightly from the shop with snow up to the hubcaps. She had made it. "My car!" said Max. He loved that car. When they passed the fence, she could see a man's legs sticking out from behind the vehicle. Strange! Why is he lying on the ground in the snow in this weather? she just managed to think before a blast caused the windows of the building to blow up in a blizzard of glass. A moment later, a second explosion detonated in a wave that ripped the stroller with Max out of her hands and threw her several meters back. When she finally managed to get to her feet, surrounded by flames and smoke, she saw that the repair shop in front of her had collapsed and that her car was lying upside down a few meters away from her. With her heart racing, she spun around in all directions. "Maaax!" she screamed, unable to hear her own voice. Then there was yet another explosion. 2 MARCUS Monday, November 30, 2020 Not a pretty sight, thought Chief of Homicide Marcus Jacobsen when he discovered his chief inspector slouched behind his desk with his eyes closed and mouth open. He gently nudged the feet behind the table. "I hope I'm not interrupting anything important, Carl," he said with a wry smile. Carl seemed to be too drowsy to react to irony. "Well, that's a question of definition, Marcus." He yawned. "I was just testing whether the distance from the edge of the desk to my feet was perfect." Marcus nodded. The renovation of the basement under police headquarters had forced out his colleagues in Department Q, the cold cases division, and it was no exaggeration to say that he was not pleased to have the country's most anarchistic department moved so close to him out here in the new facility on Teglholmen in Sydhavnen where the Copenhagen Police investigation unit was now located. The combination of Carl M¿rck's grumpy face and Rose Knudsen's incessant ranting could drive anyone crazy. He wished that Carl and Co. could be sent back to the dungeon at police HQ, especially during this horrible year of the coronavirus, but Marcus knew that was not going to happen. "Take a look at this, Carl." He opened a case file and pointed at an obituary ripped from the newspaper. "What do you make of this?" Carl rubbed his eyes and read. Maja Petersen, November 11, 1960-November 11, 2020. Sadly missed. The Family He looked up. "Well, the woman died on her sixtieth birthday but, apart from that, it doesn't mean anything to me. What's the deal?" Marcus gave him a serious look. "I'll tell you what. It reminds me more than a little of the first time you and I saw each other." "Really? That's an unfortunate association. The first time, you say? When was that?" "January 1988. You were a sergeant at Store Kongensgade police station. I was an inspector in homicide." Carl straightened up a little. "How the hell can you remember that? You didn't even know me in 1988." "I remember because you and your colleague were the first to arrive at a burning auto-repair shop that had just been blown up, and I remember how you took care of a half-conscious woman whose child had been killed in the explosion." Marcus's best investigator sat for a moment staring blankly. Then he picked up the newspaper ad and looked it over. Were his eyes welling up? It was hard to believe. "Maja Petersen," he said slowly. "Is this the Maja Petersen?" Marcus nodded. "Yes, it is. Two weeks ago, Terje Ploug and I were called out to her flat, where she had already been hanging in the hallway for a few days. We didn't have to investigate much to establish that she'd taken her own life. There was a photo of a small boy on the floor underneath her, which she'd probably held in her hand until the moment she died." He shook his head. "In the sitting room, there was a moldy layer cake on the table, completely untouched. Neatly written on top of it with light blue icing was "Maja 60 Max 3." And, slightly oddly, the cake was decorated with two crosses instead of flags and candles. One after each name." "Okay." Carl put down the obituary and leaned back heavily. "Sounds depressing. Suicide, you say. And you're sure about that?" "Yes, I am. Her funeral was yesterday, and I attended. And apart from the vicar, myself, and an elderly lady, the chapel was completely empty. It doesn't get much more depressing than that. I spoke with the lady afterward, and she was a cousin of the deceased. She turned out to be the one who had ended the obituary with 'The Family.'" Carl looked at him pensively. "And back then you were also present at the explosion site, you say? That's one detail I can't remember. I remember the snow and the biting cold and many other things, but not you." Marcus shrugged. It was more than thirty years ago, so why should he remember? "The fire was extremely violent and the fire brigade couldn't establish unequivocally how the explosions had happened," said Marcus. "However, it turned out that the repair shop also had a completely unauthorized body-finish shop, so there had been plenty of combustibles in the building, certainly more than enough for things to go wrong. And, yes, I also arrived on the scene shortly after the accident, which was more of a coincidence because I was on an assignment in the neighborhood." Carl nodded to himself. "I remember that the little boy was dead-I could see that straightaway. His tiny body lay over the curb with his head thrust into the snow. That isn't a sight you forget in a hurry. I had to hold his mother tightly to stop her from getting too close to him and seeing the terrible state he was in." He looked up. "Why did you go to Maja Petersen's funeral, Marcus?" "Why?" He sighed. "I've just never been able to let that case go. Even then, I got the sense that something wasn't right about it." He tapped the case file on the desk. "Now I've had a few days to reread and consider it." "And what's your conclusion? That the explosion wasn't an accident?" "I guess I never really believed that, but here on page two in the technical summary, I stumbled across a sentence that I didn't notice back then. And maybe there wasn't much reason to notice it more than thirty years ago." He pulled the paper out of the file and pushed it over to Carl. "I've highlighted the sentence." Carl M¿rck leaned forward in his office chair. He read the sentence marked with yellow a few times before looking up at Marcus with an expression that made his eyes appear darker. "Salt?" was all he said, repeating it a few times. Marcus nodded. "You have the same suspicion as me, I can tell." "The thing about the salt, yes. But when was that? Give me a hint." "I don't know exactly which case you had, but there was another one involving salt. You're with me, right?" "Yes, I think there was." Carl appeared to be racking his brain, but in vain. "Maybe Rose or Assad remembers," said Carl finally. Marcus shook his head. "I don't think so because it must have been before their time. But what about Hardy?" "Hardy is having treatment again in Switzerland just now, Marcus." "I know, but you've heard about a smart invention called the phone, right, Carl?" "Sure, okay, I'll call him." He frowned. "You've had some time to think about it, Marcus. How about letting me in on what happened back then in Sydhavnen?" He nodded. It would almost be a relief. Marcus told him that when the second blast sounded, all the windows in the apartment they were searching close to the repair shop imploded so violently that the pieces of glass penetrated deeply into the woodwork and furniture. Thankfully, Marcus and his colleagues were in the bedroom facing the backyard, so nothing happened to them. However, the inhabitant, a miserable junkie who was hiding weapons for some of the hard-core criminals in Vesterbro, broke down completely and started rambling on about back when he was a boy and the gasworks in Valby had exploded. Marcus tiptoed to the kitchen, out to the Siberian cold coming in from the smashed window, and immediately saw the jet-black clouds of smoke and the flames rising at least twenty-five meters up in the air above the roofs a few streets away. Two minutes later, Marcus and his sergeant entered the street where a patrol car with flashing lights was already parked, blocking the entrance. Just inside the courtyard sat a young colleague with his arms tightly wrapped around a woman. Everything was utter chaos, and burning wreckage and the asphalt emitted yet more black plumes of smoke. A child on Marcus's left had undoubtedly died on the scene, given that the small body was lying lifeless with his face pressed down into the snow. Now the flames rose at least forty meters in the air from the middle of the building, and the heat almost knocked them over. A Citro'n Dyane had been thrown upside down, wreckage and car parts were scattered in the meltwater that was fast covering most of the area, and a few cars that had been displayed for sale on the left side, by the wall of the yard, had been compressed like discarded vehicles in a junkyard. A van lay crushed underneath the rubble a bit farther along, and from behind it protruded a pair of naked charred legs-the only indication that there had been any life in the building. It was a few hours before the fire brigade brought the flames under control, but Marcus stayed on the site and followed the discoveries of his colleagues and the fire brigade. Before midnight, they had found another four bodies farther inside the building, which were so charred that it was almost impossible to determine their sex. And even though all four heads had very similar lesions, they could not immediately establish if they were caused by the violent explosion and subsequent tumult of projectiles from the shelves of metal objects in the shop. Even though it was highly probable that they were dealing with an accident, Marcus spent the next few days routinely investigating a number of possible motives someone might have had. They had to reject all suspicions of insurance fraud because the repair shop, in spite of all regulations, had no insurance policies, and on top of that the owner died in the explosion, so what could he have gained by starting a fire? Any connection to gangs was also unlikely because none of the deceased, who were subsequently identified as mechanics, had criminal records. With support from the owner's distressed widow, Marcus went over the few available records on the repair shop. "Did your husband or anyone in your family have unsettled business with anyone?" he asked. "What about any outstanding debts? Enemies? Had they been threatened by competitors?" The wife just shook her head every time. She was at a loss. Her husband was a skilled mechanic, she said. He might not have been much for paperwork, but then who was, in that line of employment? Marcus had to face the fact that this small business certainly lived up to that reputation, having neither an accountant nor a bookkeeper. And everything that resembled correspondence, client records, or financial statements had gone up in smoke-if they had ever existed in the first place. The woman knew that there would be plenty to do when the tax returns were due, but the repair shop had only existed for a few months, so no doubt it would be fine. When the site was cleared a few weeks later, they were still clueless. Only one apparently insignificant fact, which an alert technician had nevertheless noted in the report, stuck out from the rest, and Marcus had only just noticed it now, many years after his latest scrutiny of it. It read: A few meters outside the entrance gate, right up against the metal rail­ings, there was a nine-centimeter-tall pile of salt. And then a brief added note that should probably have raised alarm bells: And it was kitchen salt, not road salt. Excerpted from The Shadow Murders: A Department Q Novel by Jussi Adler-Olsen All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.