About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Purity of Vengeance by Jussi Adler-Olsen

The Purity of Vengeance by Jussi Adler-Olsen - In another dramatic prologue Nete, having been told by her wealthy husband that he is leaving her because she never told him she was sterlized, yanks the steering wheel to force their car off the road towards the sea.

(To write this review I found some modest use of spoilers were needed.)

Thirty-five years later in 2010 Carl Mørck is one of the few Copenhagen police officers not suffering from the flu. His assistant, Assad, has a spectacular red nose.

Purity Party leader, Dr. Curt Wad, may be 87 but he is looking forward to the party gaining representation in the Danish Parliament. He remains absolutely committed to the Party.

The Party’s positions have remained unchanged during its history:

The association for the defence of the nation’s unblemished blood and moral values had gone by three different names since Curt’s father had founded the movement in his stubborn endeavors to ensure racial purity and the raising of public morals. In the 1940’s he had called it the Anti-Debauchery Chommittee. Later it became the Community of Danes, then eventually the Purity Party.

Applying those principles the Party believes “Tamils, Pakistanis, Turks, Afghans, Vietnamese, all had to be stopped in the manner of any other invasive impurity. Effectively and without hesitations”.

The Party is convinced of the benefits of eugenics. It does not just advocate eugenics. Wad has turned over abortions and sterlizations to a younger colleague.

Assad reveals one of his international connections when he uses information from Lithuanian intelligence services to terrify a tough Lithuanian criminal who had thrown acid into the face of a brothel owner whose brother is a retired police officer.

A personal death long ago is brought back to Mørck. In 1978 his uncle had drowned in a 75 cm deep brook while Mørck and his cousin were ogling some girls bicycling nearby.

An excavation turns up a body at the home where Mørck, Hardy and Anker had been shot in 2008.

Mørck’s ex, Viggo, has decided to re-marry and wants several hundred thousand kroner as her share of the family home.

The nasty past and unpleasant present would totally depress Mørck, were it not for the passionate Mona Ibsen.

Assad and Rose, while researching a missing person case, cleverly look for other missing persons cases from that time and find four. Statistically impossible Department Q starts looking for connections.

Back in 1987 Nete carefully plans revenge upon those who had ruined her youth. She has used her training as a lab assistant to learn how to make poison from henbane (a relative of nightshade).

The mental health issues of Rose / Yrsa become clearer after Carl speaks to her actual sister, Yrsa. Different personalities help Rose cope with life.

A reader dare not pause in their attention to the plot or you, as I was, will be forced to go back because of a missed development in one or more of the varied sub-plots.

As a woman with a conscience Nete finds revenge gives little joy and even less release from the memories of the cruelties inflicted upon her in her youth.

As with the villains of his earlier books the wicked of The Purity of Vengeance are not caricatures. Wad loves and supports his dying wife, Beate. He has a good relationship with his children. Intended or not I was left to puzzle how a man and a doctor who loved deeply and helped many in his medical practice could be so cold and vicious to those he considered inferior. 

When there can be no legal punishment for crimes decades in the past the enticement of self-justice can become overwhelming.

There was a startling twist that resolved the main plot. There is much in Mørck’s life to be resolved in the series. The ending was more Hollywood than I like in serious crime fiction. 

Adler-Olsen has written another uncomfortable compelling mystery.
Adler-Olsen, Jussi - (2011) - The Keeper of Lost Causes(2012) - The Absent One; (2020) - A Conspiracy of Faith


  1. That's the thing about this series, Bill. Adler-Olsen builds in several sub-plots and characters, so it really is important to stay focused and follow the action. But the rewards are considerable. I like the way Adler-Olsen rounds out his characters so that they do seem human. And the interactions among the 'regular' characters are especially well done. I'm glad you enjoyed this one.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. We live in an age that appears to be trying to make everyone 1 or 2 dimensional. There are multiple dimensions to all of us and I appreciate authors whose characters reflect those subtleties.

  2. I can see you are far ahead of me in this series. I have The Absent One to read soon, and look forward to reading others.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. Good reading ahead for you. They are complex enough to justify the length.