The Scarred Woman

Despite Detective Carl Mørck's affinity for napping, he and his colleagues are busy with five cases in Jussi Adler-Olsen's The Scarred Woman, seventh in the Department Q series. A woman is found beaten to death, and the crime resembles another beating death 12 years earlier. A killer is mowing down young women in the street with a car. A nightclub is robbed, and a woman is shot nearby. All of this while Department Q assistant Rose's psychological problems escalate to an alarming level, and the only way to save her life may be for her colleagues to solve the mystery surrounding a long-ago death in her family.

The novel is eerily timely, with plotlines involving Nazis ("There had been a time when people had thought that this kind of evil could never happen again but all it did was remind [Carl] of the reality in large parts of the world today") and cars being driven into pedestrians, though the killings are personal, not terror attacks.

The hit-and-run killer's motive feels shallow and information is often repeated as scenes are retold from different points of view. Nevertheless, the relationship and banter between Carl and his associate Assad, with Assad's "linguistic blunders," continue to elicit chuckles. Assad: "Are you going to stroke him the wrong way?" "You mean rub him the wrong way, Assad." Adler-Olsen is deadly serious, though, and compassionate when it comes to poor, traumatized Rose. She may have emotional scars but her friends have got her back. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

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