The Shadow Murders
September 12, 2022

Book Review

The Shadow Murders

reviewed by Pam Guynn

The Shadow Murders by Jussi Adler-Olsen is intriguing, suspenseful, and original. It is the ninth book in the Department Q series and has been translated by William Frost.

Detective Carl Morck, the leader of Department Q, the small cold case division in Copenhagen, Denmark, is given a recent suicide case. His superior, Marcus Jacobsen, believes it is related to an unsolved case from 1988. They are to drop other cases and work this one.

Carl’s team consists of Rose, Assad, and Gordon. As the four investigate, they realize Marcus is right. There is something going on. There have been unusual deaths every two years that have connections. Are they accidents, a series of coincidences, murders by a serial killer, or a combination of the three?

The author does a fantastic job of characterization. Every character seemed to come alive. Readers get a great sense of what they value in life and how they approach their days. Insights into Carl, Rose, Assad, and Gordon come over time and aren’t a data dump. Readers get a sense of both their personal and professional lives.

The prologue and a couple of chapters are flashbacks. Other than that, the chapters cover a short time period of November 30 to December 26, 2020. Each chapter focuses on a different individual, but the story moves smoothly between them. This police procedural and crime thriller has a stunning and deeply involved plot. The twists and turns will keep readers highly engaged and leads to an action-filled and emotional conclusion.

The book explores how individuals can twist religion and morality to suit their extremist views. Symbolism plays a role in this story line. Insight into the treatment of immigrants can be seen through Assad and the effects on his family as well as references to casual workers from other countries. The novel takes place during the Covid-19 pandemic. This adds difficulties and complexities to the investigation. There is a twist from the past that affects one of the major characters. This subplot is left unresolved and readers will have to read the final book in the series to see how it ends. This cliffhanger ending is my only quibble with the story.

Overall, this was an engaging, thought-provoking, and emotional story that kept me turning the pages rapidly. I am looking forward to reading the conclusion to this series. Those that enjoy well-done police procedurals and crime thrillers are encouraged to consider this book as their next read. Five books in the series have also been adapted into movies.

PENGUIN GROUP Dutton and Jussi Adler-Olsen provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for September 27, 2022.

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