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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

(A Conspiracy of Faith)

Jussi Adler-Olsen

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To purchase A Conspiracy of Faith

Title: Redemption
Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Genre: Novel
Written: 2009 (Eng. 2013)
Length: 504 pages
Original in: Danish
Availability: A Conspiracy of Faith - US
Redemption - UK
A Conspiracy of Faith - Canada
Redemption - India
Délivrance - France
Erlösung - Deutschland
El mensaje que llegó en una botella - España
  • Danish title: Flaskepost fra P
  • UK title: Redemption
  • US title: A Conspiracy of Faith
  • Translated by Martin Aitken
  • The third in the Department Q-series

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Our Assessment:

B : a few too many elements, but central crime-story fairly well built up and suspenseful

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Politiken . 6/10/2009 Bo Tao Michaëlis
Publishers Weekly . 11/3/2013 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "Plot og politi er effektfuldt, om ikke just originalt designet. Men så er der heldigvis forfatterens uforudsigelighed, hans spændende variationer over et mønster." - Bo Tao Michaëlis, Politiken

  • "(A) shattering parable of honest individuals caught up in the corruption of our times." - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Redemption (published as A Conspiracy of Faith in the US) is the third 'Department Q' novel. Detective Inspector Carl Mørck is still the man in charge of the motley basement crew of Q, the: "expert in blowing dust off antique case files", as the small department he runs is the local Danish cold case office. Also on board: Assad, the mysterious Syrian (who clearly has more secrets than he's willing to admit to, the facts about him Mørck (doesn't) uncover in the course of this installment in the series certainly suggesting that he's even more a man of mystery) as well as Rose -- who doesn't show up for work for most of the novel, her place taken by a woman identifying herself as Yrsa, as she also turns out to be a more ... complicated character than the previous volume in the series suggested. Some asbestos-issues in their out-of-the way offices are just another small complication they have to deal with. Meanwhile, Carl's house remains an unusual bachelor pad, complete with his quadriplegic buddy -- and the former wife who thinks she might want to move back in, too (i.e. his private life is a right mess).
       One case Department Q dips into is an active case from upstairs that turns out to be more extensive than those investigators realized, a series of arson cases, each of which includes an unidentifiable corpse -- but this is mostly a minor, secondary story. The other case they're dealing with is a tougher nut to crack: a few years earlier someone in Scotland had fished a bottle with a message in it out of the sea, and only now has it finally made its way back to Denmark. Hard to decipher, the message suggests that in 1996 a kidnap victim had managed to write the message and seal it in the bottle. Among the problems, however, are the few details Department Q can make out -- and the absence of any reports on file of such a kidnapping or missing person from that time, thirteen years earlier.
       The novel shifts back and forth between Carl's investigations (and other activities) and the activities of the kidnapper -- who, conveniently, is right in the middle of planning and executing a kidnapping much as he had thirteen years earlier (and repeatedly in the years since). The kidnapper's modus operandi is ... inspired, and basically involves kidnapping two children at a time from a wealthy family that is also extremely devout and belongs to a tightly-knit but closed-off religious community (of which there are apparently surprisingly many in Denmark). He's methodical and careful, and it seems like a near foolproof method (complete with making sure the family never talks to the authorities), and he's done very well for himself (and his wife and young son) with it -- but now, for once, things don't go exactly the way they should. It doesn't help that his wife (finally) gets suspicious about his secretive activities (or that he has kept so many records on hand), and a few small missteps along the way -- like the woman he gets involved with as he gets set to make his move -- all eventually begin to catch up with him.
       The kidnapper's own background -- in an ultra-religious family, of course, and with a domineering nutcase of a father -- are also presented, showing how he came to be the monster that he is.
       Department Q doesn't realize they are in a race against time to save two further kidnap victims until well along into the investigation, as the pieces slowly come together, and Adler-Olsen builds up the suspense pretty well leading up to this. It gets a bit frantic, eventually -- and the kidnapper's talent for changing his appearance and passing unnoticed get increasingly far-fetched -- and the climax feels a bit forced (there are apparently no easy arrests in Nordic thrillers), but on the whole it's a solid thriller-story, and certainly a decent page-turner.
       The incidental material is less successful, including Carl's domestic and personal life, and there's quite a bit here that is only hinted at -- Assad's secretive activities that will, in one of the future installments, surely blow up into something major. And then there are revelations like the one about Rose that seem somewhere between gratuitous and merely confounding -- but maybe this too will come into play in a bigger way further along the line. Certainly, Adler-Olsen likes to try make these Q-Books work both as stand-alones (and each does work as such) and also part of a larger series (which, so far, isn't working nearly as well).
       The writing is a bit choppy, as at some points Adler-Olsen just seems to want to stuff the material in so he can move on. It should also be noted that the publishers still haven't been able to settle on a translator for the series: it's a different one for each book, with Martin Aitken having a go at it this time. The translation is adequate, for the most part, though distinctly British in some of the approaches, notably in trying to convey how Assad does not have a full command over local idioms yet. So American readers might not readily understand attempts at humor such as:

"Ahh, you are making fun with me now. I understand, Carl." He waggled an admonishing index finger in the air. "But my piss cannot so easily be taken out of me."
       With its clever, horrible crimes, the criminal's attempts to stay in control, and the investigation slowly coming together, piece by piece, Redemption is a solid, suspenseful thriller. Carl and his crews (both professional and domestic) remain an interesting cast of characters, but it feels like there are a lot of loose and lazy ends surrounding these; it's the portrait of the single-minded and exacting criminal that really holds this chapter in the Q-chronicles together.

- M.A.Orthofer, 16 June 2013

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Redemption (A Conspiracy of Faith): Reviews: Jussi Adler-Olsen: Other books by Jussi Adler-Olsen under review:
  • Disgrace (US title: The Absent One)
  • Mercy (US title: The Keeper of Lost Causes)
Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen was born in 1950.

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© 2013-2021 the complete review

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