A Conspiracy of Faith is the third book in Adler-Olsen’s “Department Q” series featuring Copenhagen Deputy Detective Superintendent Carl Mørck. (See my review of the first book here.) Carl heads a very small subunit in Homicide called Department Q, which was established to take a second look at cold cases. As Carl’s boss said about the criteria for a case to be sent to Department Q: “It’s old, it’s unsolved, and no one else could be arsed.”
As with the previous book, we know right away who the criminal is, so there are no surprises there; the race is to see if and when Carl and his crew can apprehend the guilty party; how many deaths will take place before they can do so; and whether everyone on Carl’s team will make it out alive.
It’s a clever set-up for an author; you don’t have to worry about throwing in red herrings which may or may not be effective or plausible, nor do you have to worry about avid reviewers inserting spoilers into their summaries!
The evildoer in this case is targeting religious fanatics, kidnapping their children for ransom. In this way, he supports himself. (In a very funny passage the bad guy allows how he thought of retiring earlier but the stock market hasn’t been good; even serial killers suffer from the economy!) As the story goes on, we learn more about why this person has come to hate religious sects, and a bit about their prevalence in Denmark.
Discussion: Once again with this author, the criminal is way, way beyond evil. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t keep coming back to what I hope is such an implausible depiction of the bad guys, but I’m too enamored of the good guys to give up the series!
The character of Detective Mørck is very entertaining; all he really wants to do is nap. He also has a dry, mordant wit that is quite humorous; he always sees the worst in everyone and everything, and is always capitulating to his “powerlessness” over events. His home life is a zoo, and his work life is out of control as well. His assistant Assad, who actually started out as the janitor, does most of the crime solving, and the secretary Rose does the rest! In this book, moreover, we also meet Rose’s twin sister Yrsa, who is as fully engaging as is Rose.
Evaluation: This book had more suspense than the prior one I read, and had me racing to the end. It can be read as a standalone but I would recommend starting at the beginning anyway, because you will get more out of the series and besides you will like it so much you will wish you had (because who likes to go backwards?)!
Note: Jim read this book too, and also liked this one better than the previous in the series. Our ratings would be higher but for the over-the-top-ishness of the bad guys!
Published by Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2013