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Posted: May 19, 2019

Enjoy this artful merger

Book Review

By Derryll White

Adler Olsen, Jussi (2015). The Hanging Girl.

’The Hanging Girl’ is another Danish Department Q novel featuring Detective Inspector Carl Mørck and his able assistants Assad and Rose.

Mørck is remorselessly philosophical in this story. He demands to know how people know themselves, how they deal with the problems of their own past, and I feel he asks that of every reader as well. How can you forget yourself and the things that have made you who you are?

Adler Olsen takes two separate stories in this novel and runs them both with strength. At some point the reader begins to sense that they may merge. Then the fun begins, watching the writer exert his craft to bring the two artfully together into one.

I found the research on religion and sun cults fascinating. Having read ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’ many times, I was delighted with the analysis of repetitive religious stories. Just where have our own myths come from?

This is a large novel in many ways. Jussi Adler Olsen had to work hard as a storyteller to keep the flow going, and he did. I am impressed with the Department Q series and with the growth of the supporting cast members. ‘The Hanging Girl’ was a very good read.

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Excerpts from the novel:

RESPONSIBILITY – To put it bluntly, he didn’t give a damn about towns like Svaneke and Listed and Rønne, and now suddenly here he was feeling so strangely alone and abandoned. Here of all places on the extreme edge of Denmark, he was struck by the realization that people couldn’t run from themselves, regardless of where they were. The feeling that you always carried the past with you, and that it was only yourself that could be held responsible for who you were.

PHOTOGRAPHY – Carl wasn’t sure. Compared to today’s digital reality, where everything was endlessly documented and where everyone with even an ounce of self-respect had their smart phones ever at the ready to capture all sorts of trivia and selfies, 1997 seemed like the Stone Age.

DENMARK – Scattered along the rain-filled, deep tyre tracks there were monoliths with carved runes and coloured Celtic and Norse symbols. There could be no doubt that this was the entrance to a world parallel to the one where politicians strutted in borrowed plumes and people bought even the most obvious lies.

RELIGION – “I’ve practiced the Asa-faith since I was a boy, and out there in the war zone I found comfort in my rituals. It was obvious that I got along better on a day-to-day basis than most of the others, so it wasn’t long before there were many of us who found peace in the faith. When you’re up against a movement that builds on faith as much as the Taliban does, quite honestly you begin to feel poor without something, especially when you’re so exposed and far from home. So we rooted ourselves in the past that we’ve inherited in the north.”

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.


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