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by Jussi Adler-Olsen and William Frost, read by Graeme Malcolm
Penguin Audio, September 2015
Unabridged pages
ISBN: 1611764726

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

With stacks of unsolved deaths on his hands in Department Q, which handles Denmark's cold cases, the last thing Carl Mørck wants to be saddled with - and please, no camel references here from his sidekick Assad - is a seventeen-year-old unsolved hit-and-run death on the remote island of Bornholm. Sgt. Christian Habersaat, a former colleague of Carl's, has been obsessed with the case, until it finally destroyed his marriage and his relationship with his son, but his plea for Carl's intervention is dismissed, after which the retired detective kills himself, thus forcing Carl to take up his investigation.

Carl, Assad, and Rose - the stalwart Department Q team - trek to Bornholm to pick up the very cold trail and to pore through a house full of documents and photos left behind by Christian. Can they find the killer, who struck a high school girl so violently with a blue van that she was found hanging in a tree on this quiet island? Or will their time and efforts lead nowhere, uncover a deceased suspect, or force them to conclude it was all just a tragic accident?

Their focus soon turns to a young man calling himself Atu, who was sleeping with numerous women and forming a cult based on sun worship and devotion to Horus, the Egyptian god. A parallel narrative follows the machinations of Pirjo, Atu's assistant and would-be consort. But the road to the yellow-robed cult, which has moved on to Sweden, is long and treacherous.

Why would sun worshippers, one may ask, choose Sweden over some tropical island? That is only one of the many questions the listener is left with. Perhaps counter-cultural religious groups are back in vogue, but most of the robed men with flowing locks and a harem of women seem to have moved on or gone to their reward after the millennium. At times, this installment seems like an earlier novel onto which the current lives of Carl, Assad, and Rose have been grafted, but this seems not to be the case.

It is definitely lesser Adler-Olsen, not aided by a different translator, William Frost, whose English rendition lacks the fluidity of Martin Aitkin or Steve Schein, even though Graeme Malcolm provides continuity with his brilliant work throughout the series. Malcolm plunges gamely ahead through phrases that seem translated by Google and thoughtfully interprets Pirjo as a Lady Macbeth-like figure, who makes sure nothing disturbs her god Atu.

The first-rate narration makes THE HANGING GIRL a pleasure to listen to, and fans will enjoy keeping up with Carl, Assad, and Rose on their adventures while we await their next adventure.

§ An avid audiophile, Karla Jay is a retired professor of English and Women's & Gender Studies. She is a frequent contributor to this site.

Reviewed by Karla Jay, October 2015

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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