Review: The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Release date: September 19, 2017

Publisher: Dutton Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


The New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Keeper of Lost Causes delivers his most captivating and suspenseful Department Q novel yet—perfect for fans of Stieg Larsson. 


Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q, Copenhagen’s cold cases division, meets his toughest challenge yet when the dark, troubled past of one of his own team members collides with a sinister unsolved murder.

In a Copenhagen park the body of an elderly woman is discovered. The case bears a striking resemblance to another unsolved homicide investigation from over a decade ago, but the connection between the two victims confounds the police. Across town a group of young women are being hunted. The attacks seem random, but could these brutal acts of violence be related? Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q is charged with solving the mystery.


Back at headquarters, Carl and his team are under pressure to deliver results: failure to meet his superiors’ expectations will mean the end of Department Q. Solving the case, however, is not their only concern. After an earlier breakdown, their colleague Rose is still struggling to deal with the reemergence of her past—a past in which a terrible crime may have been committed. It is up to Carl, Assad, and Gordon to uncover the dark and violent truth at the heart of Rose’s childhood before it is too late.


Before I get into my review I wanted to share my series overview with you guys again. If you haven’t read any of the books in the Department Q series yet it will catch you up and enable you to jump right in! 

The Scarred Woman had one complex, elaborate plot, there were so many plot threads that I kept wondering how in the world they would all come together?! Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t too much going on and I wasn’t overwhelmed or anything like that. It actually made the book really exciting, it just made me think really hard about where things were headed. At one point Carl and the rest of the Department Q team are working on five different cases at once and trying to figure out if they’re related or not. When the puzzle pieces started to fit together I was truly blown away by how intelligent and well thought out this book was. 

Department Q is down to just Carl, Assad and Gordan as Rose is dealing with some severe mental health issues. I thought the author did a remarkable job of tackling a sensitive subject with delicacy and sensitivity as he explored Rose’s mental health. Her illness puts extra strain on her fellow team members and adds an additional layer to the story. 

One of the biggest surprises here (for me at least) was how funny this book was! It’s definitely not a comedy or anything and it’s still very dark but there was a ton of humor added. Carl himself has a very dry wit and ironic sense of humor. Assad mangles several common phrases and Carl is always quick to correct him and every time I snorted with laughter. It made Assad so adorable and endearing though there is a sense of mystery surround his background that I’m hoping is explored further in the next book. These characters are extremely well drawn and well considered, you can tell that Adler-Olsen did his homework. 

I do want to point out that this is a rather dense read with heavy themes such as mental illness, benefit fraud, prostitution, etc. It was just under five hundred pages but I never felt like it was overdone at all. It’s set in Denmark and the sense of place is excellent, having never been there myself I felt like I had a strong grasp of what it’s like there and how it would feel to live there. 

Since I didn’t end up having the time to read the first six books before I jumped into this one I was a tad apprehensive about forming a connection to the characters but I shouldn’t have worried. I will be going backwards and reading some of the earlier books though since I enjoyed this one so much! I just wanted to encourage those of you who may be hesitant to start with the seventh book, do it! I don’t think you’ll regret it. 

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

7 thoughts on “Review: The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen

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