I love the narration and the characters. All of the characters, the main and the supporting, are so well-rounded and so 3-D that it's quite easy to picture them as real people.
Yes. Although there's a fairly easy logical deduction to make as to how the mystery went, there's definitely a few plot twists that took me by surprise and were not quite what I expected.
I really like the Homicide Chief and Assad. The homicide chief's patience with Carl and politicking with maintaining the office is both hilarious and oddly sweet. He could have easily been a character to hate but the clear motivation to do the right thing makes him a more interesting character. Assad is a bundle of surprises - he's my favourite kind of character - smart, witty, and a dark horse.
this is not a book for the weak of stomach. There is definitely torture in this book, physical, mental, and emotional. It's graphic enough that if you try to picture it in your head, you could probably puke, but Jussi's writing and the translation are extremely well-done. Those scenes flash by like vivid surreal photos and it's up to the reader to choose to look further into them or not. Everything is so fast-paced and so page turning that I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.
This is going to be a negative review, but I will concede that at least until the plot became plodding and routine about halfway in, I found the book very enjoyable. If only the author could have sustained my interest in the second half . . . but, alas, he did not.
I can forgive an author of a police procedural for allowing the reader to solve the "whodunit" before his detective does. Indeed in this novel, which was always planned to be the first of a series, the reader is given information that the main character never has, so I was not too surprised when I figured out who the villain was fairly early in the story (I was even a little disappointed when the author confirmed my deduction -- I was hoping that it would be more complicated). However, when the reader knows the who,what, why and how well before the story concludes,the author better make the story really good -- and that, in my opinion, is where this book fails.
SPOILER ALERT -- I will try not to reveal too much about the story, but to make my point it will be necessary to give a few details.
First, I understand that this book is setting up a series, so it is necessary to introduce the "regular" characters we expect to see in the future. However,I was very disappointed that those characters were all from central casting:
Tormented Hero -- Check
Sometimes Bumbling, Sometimes Brilliant Assistant with a Mysterious Past -- Check
Gruff but Lovable Boss -- Check
Bureaucratic, Officious Superior -- Check
Nagging Ex -- Check
Sulky Teen -- Check
Injured Former Partner -- Check (Double Bonus if you guessed said partner is paralyzed and wants Tormented Hero to help him end his life)
Dead Former Partner-- Check
Beautiful Secretary that Flirts but it's all Innocent or is it? (i.e. Bond/Moneypenny) -- Check
Damsel in Distress -- Check
Psychotic Villain -- Check
Mentally Challenged Henchman -- Check
Psychotic Villain's "my boy can do no wrong" Mother/Henchwoman -- Check
Also, it is clear the author holds the Danish Civil Service and Political Establishment in utter contempt (perhaps with good cause, as I know little of Danish politics or government bureaucracy).
Second, the story was just too long, especially the dwelling over the torture/degradation of the victim. I get that the premise is that the hero is looking into cold cases and that the twist here is that the "murder victim" is still alive (not really a spoiler, as the reader is privy to this information early on -- and can figure it out even before then). Nonetheless, we are treated to scene after scene of just how bad the victim's circumstance is yet we are supposed to believe that she is the unique person who can retain her sanity despite 5 years of solitary confinement and torture (newsflash -- in true solitary confinement, i.e. no contact with other humans and confined to featureless environment, most people go stark raving mad within DAYS, and at most you can survive a few months -- with the addition of torture, its simply not credible that this victim would be lucid and plotting her revenge FIVE YEARS later). I would have eliminated at least half of the sections that detail the treatment of the victim by her captors, and even then I am not buying the "love for my handicapped brother and a desire for revenge are keeping me sane").
Even when the hero realizes that he must act immediately, we are treated to the cliché of a traffic jam keeping him from reaching his destination, buying the villain just enough time to tie poor Nell to the tracks as the train is on its way (though the villain's prior location is not specified, he, of course, had no such ill luck in rushing to scene of the final showdown).
Another problem with the final showdown (SPOILER ALERT) is that the villain has rigged an elaborate system to assure the victim's instant death (in case she tries to kill herself and, thus, rob him of the pleasure of deciding the time and manner of her death), but this system is conveniently disablde because a battery has run down (and has been for a week or more). His henchman notes that another battery is available, but instead of going to get it he tries to accomplish the same result by brute force. When the villain arrives on the scene, he berates the henchman for his efforts, telling him that only the system that requires the battery can do the job, Yet mere minutes later when taunted by the victim into attempting to effect the instant death scenario he DOES NOT GO TO GET THE FRESH BATTERY, but instead adopts the same brute force methods of the henchman. He then goes to Plan B which for some reason takes 20 minutes to work (well, the reason is the hero is stuck in traffic and needs the extra time to arrive at the last minute). It was just a little much to suspend disbelief over.
Finally, while the reader is OK, I have a real problem with his use of accents for the characters. Yes, I get that the book was originally written in Danish and the characters are, with one principal exception, Danes. But why do the characters have to speak with Danish accents in an English translation? It really adds nothing to the performance of the book (and quite frankly, sometimes make the reader difficult to understand as he uses the thickness of the accent to indicate the class/social position of the speaker). I would have been OK with all the dialogue being without accents except for the one non-Danish character -- and frankly that is the accent on which the reader puts the least effort.
I might give the second novel in the series a try just see if the pace picks up a little, but my expectations won't be as high as they were for this much praised book. I'd be curious to see the film adaptation if it is available with English sub-titles .
The plot was very intriguing and thought out. Well developed characters. I had a hard time putting it down-- kept listening way into the night when I should have gone to bed.
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo comes to mind-- similar pacing and twists and turns keeping the reader interested and guessing what was coming up
The narrator was okay, but I thought his pace was a little slow, especially when he was using Danish words. It took a long time to get used to this slower cadence.
I am happy I got to know the main character in this first book of the series. I look forward to reading the next one.
This wasn't the worst I've listened to but it's close. The story had promise until the plot unraveled. Example that you can write about anything; but is it worth listening to.
The narrator has a great voice and did a fair job with the accent; however I find the talent of a good narrator is to portray each character and this didn't happen. Everyone sounded the same and flat to boot.
Pass on this one.
I enjoyed the story and narration but not quite in the same league as Nesbo in my opinion. But I very much look forward to next book on series
I'm thankful I finished, but it was work for a long time. Layered is the description most fitting. There is depth to the characters, a mystery with complexity, and a chilling third act that makes for a satisfying payoff. Still, the book is slow to get going. I would recommend for those fans of the genre, but not as a first step into the Norwegian thriller world.
Avid reader of intellectual detective procedurals, thrillers, suspense novels and detailed dramatic fiction.
I am hooked on department Q. Great read with diabolical plot!
The evolution of the story/plot.
I had a little trouble at the beginning distinguishing characters, as the narrator used all his energy on the accents, however he improved and he was consistent which helped. The story itself was excellent and unexpected which I relish. I hate being able to guess what happens next. I'm going to try another book by the author and I'll recommend this one to my friends.
This is my second time listening to this book and I enjoyed it as much as the first time. It's an incredible story of how far bitterness can take a human being; while exposing that within all that darkness lies hope and miracles.