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The Scarred Woman: A Department Q Novel    by Jussi Adler-Olsen order for
Scarred Woman
by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I read and enjoyed the first four Department Q novels, but then missed a couple, so found myself a little out of touch with The Scarred Woman's back story. Still, it was not a problem to jump in again and enjoy this quirky team of police investigators in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Stubborn Detective Carl Mørck runs Department Q (responsible for the coldest cases) out of a basement office, and has a rocky relationship with his superiors. At this stage in the series, his first two assistants - mysterious immigrant Assad and thorny Rose Knudsen - have been joined by Gordon, who has a strong crush on Rose. Carl shares his home with his friend and ex-colleague Hardy, who was left a paraplegic after a shooting, but has recovered somewhat. Though Carl still has strong feelings for consulting psychologist Mona Ibsen, they are no longer together.

Adler-Olsen centers his mysteries on tough topics. This time he focuses on Denmark's social services and flighty young women who take advantage of them. One case worker, AnneLine Svendsen (who is being treated for cancer) has had enough and starts to systematically murder her clients. At the same time, a trio of these young women embark on their own criminal rampage. Of course, these cases intersect, as does another murder investigation. An elderly woman's body was found in a Copenhagen park.

Carl and crew are soon in the thick of things, but without Rose's valuable assistance. After a previous case triggered a breakdown, Rose had herself admitted to a psychiatric ward. She's clearly still struggling with old, dark memories of the accident that killed her abusive father. When she faces another, even more serious crisis, Carl and Assad are fiercely determined to find out what happened to her in the past and help her come to terms with it. Will they succeed?

Though the story in The Scarred Woman took a while to catch my interest, it did and then held it strongly to the end. This is a very different police procedural series, with endearingly odd leads. It's very well worth following.

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