Initially, L. J. Hurst worked in the backrooms of the media industry. He now divides his time between work for an international scientific publisher and a rather more British independent bookseller. In years past he was a regular attendee at the Shots on the Page Festivals from whence Shots Mag sprung
MERCY is more proof that effective devastation continues to emerge from Scandanavia, as if the Viking forces which managed to over-run most of Europe at the end of the first millennium have had their strength recovered and redirected into literature.
Penguin plan to issue a sequel next year and another in 2013 but I doubt if they will be able to resist the demand for more of Jussi Adler-Olsen’s detective protagonist Carl Morck and I hope those titles are released earlier. Interviewed on Radio 4’s Today program, Jussi Adler-Olsen spoke of 4,000 pages telling the full story, which suggests that there are another seven volumes after the first three. I have no idea how many have already appeared in Denmark.
Carl Morck (British linguistic incapability means I am omitting the stroke through the letter “o” in his name), a brilliant if mercurial detective, has been off work after a shooting which left one colleague dead, another quadriplegic and himself wounded. His colleague taking the shot which would otherwise have killed Morck has left him psychologically as well as physically damaged. In addition, Morck feels himself weakened in the eyes of the subsequent investigators by his inability to supply almost any eye-witness evidence to the massacre. His superiors find a way out when politicians decide they want action on unsolved cases and offer new finance to the police department – Morck and his reputation will become a new department of Dead Ends (to use Roy Vickers’ term – Jussi Adler-Olsen is not the first to use this idea), while the funding will be syphoned off into the real department.
Morck, though, forces himself back into work, creates his office at the end of a corridor in the basement and with a probably illegal immigrant as his cleaner-cum secretary-cum investigator. The case that forces itself to their attention has forced itself to ours even earlier because Adler-Olssen has been dropping in chapters describing a woman imprisoned in a metal tank for seven years. Why is she there? Who are her unseen captors? How will Morck make any sort of progress?
It becomes clear that Danish politics is just as dirty as any other country, perhaps exacerbated by its many parties and shifting coalitions. On the other hand part, Morck discovers several suspects and families who have felt themselves driven to extremes by the failure of a welfare state to offer succour in individual suffering, even if those families were once wealthy and successful. So successful that they once acquired and have hung on to private property where prisoners may be kept for years; but so deranged and untreated that they would want to keep prisoners for years.
The next two titles in the series are DISGRACE and REDEMPTION, keep an eye out for them. Morck has a lot more to discover – he has yet to find out who shot him and why. He still wants answers; I am sure there are bodies on the way.