DISGRACE is the eagerly awaited sequel to the popular MERCY, the debut of Jussi Adler-Olsen; both are set in Copenhagen. MERCY introduced Detective Superintendent Carl Morck who is assigned to work cold cases in Department Q. His only colleague is a civilian, the mysterious Assad. They are joined in DISGRACE by a forthright police secretary, Rose.
Someone wants Carl and co to reopen a case that's been solved. The investigation into the brutal murder of a brother and sister was closed nine years later when the murderer confessed however someone thinks that that's not the whole story. They link those deaths to a number of other assaults and disappearances and believe the culprits to be a group of now prominent businessmen.
Alongside the Department Q investigation are chapters from the point of view of Kimmie who has been on the streets in hiding from the same businessmen and chapters from the businessmen themselves. Eventually all three narratives coincide in a dangerous situation.
After the success of MERCY it would be hard for DISGRACE to reach the same height and unfortunately for me it didn't. There are plenty of things to like still, the humour, the conversations between the three disparate members of Department Q and Carl's attempts to woo his psychologist, and a solid police investigation. On the negative side are the bits which don't involve Carl. The people Carl is chasing and their activities are so unpleasant – both animal and human cruelty abound - that I found their, at times quite lengthy, sections hard going. Whereas MERCY's second narrative strand came from the strong and sympathetic victim of Merete, DISGRACE has Kimmie who is also strong, but unlikeable and unbalanced and though there is an attempt to explain her abnormal and violent behaviours by a terrible childhood it's hard to feel anything for her plight. For me this was at times a difficult read but those less squeamish than I, may get more out of it.
I'd also recommend reading MERCY beforehand to get up to speed with Carl's work and personal situation.