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The Shadow Murders: Department Q #9    by Jussi Adler-Olsen order for
Shadow Murders
by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2022 (2022)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I've long enjoyed Jussi Adler-Olsen's Department Q police procedurals, but seem to have missed some along the way. The Shadow Murders (translated by William Frost) is ninth in this series featuring a quirky team of cold case investigators in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Stubborn Detective Carl Mørck runs Department Q (no longer in the basement). He is assisted by mysterious immigrant Assad, thorny Rose Knudsen, and Gordon (the youngest Q member), who has a crush on Rose. Carl's friend and ex-colleague Hardy was left a paraplegic after a shooting, and is now undergoing treatment in Switzerland.

This episode opens in 1982, when first responders arrive at a scene of carnage. There are six lifeless bodies, all struck by lightning, and one survivor, a young woman whose reaction is odd to say the least. Fast forward to 1988, as single mother Maja's small son Max is killed when a repair shop is blown up nearby.

Forward again to 2020, when Maja commits suicide on her sixtieth birthday. Carl had been first on the scene when Max was killed, and found a nine-centimeter pile of kitchen salt at the scene. Carl's team starts looking for other cases involving piles of table salt - and discover five killings, all committed on dictators' birthdays.

Their investigation leads to a vigilante group of vengeful women, whose activities escalate. In parallel, Carl is being investigated for involvement in a large-scale cocaine trade! Of course, the author ties all these threads into another unusual and thrilling plot, but this episode ends on quite the cliffhanger for Carl himself.

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