Review: The Scarred Woman

Book Title: The Scarred Woman
Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Series: Department Q #7
Genres: Nordic/Crime Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Pub Date: 09/19/17

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.


We all know how picky I am when it comes to jumping into the middle of a long running series; while I appreciate books that have the feel of a standalone, I also immensely enjoy the backstory of reoccurring characters and the development of their personalities and individual storylines. That said, Abby @ Crime By The Book assured me I would survive reading this particular novel out of order; as I trust all of her recommendations I decided to commit to reading The Scarred Woman and see if it left me wanting to go back and fill myself in with the first 6 novels in the series. Spoiler Alert- it did! While many fellow readers gasped and guffawed at my choice to skip ahead and start where I did, I have to say that it was an abnormally satisfying experience! Yes, I’m dying to go back to the beginning, just let me be me but all in all it worked so well as a standalone!

One of the many reasons I’ve had this series on my radar is the fact that I’ve adored all the designs gracing the US covers, and TSW may be my favorite one to date. I have serious heart eyes for the color green. Color me relieved when I discovered that the writing was just as fascinating as the front that I so clearly judged. Novels that simultaneously contain a standalone case and a continuing backstory of the main characters will always be my storytelling form of choice; I have such high respect for authors who can pull this off as flawlessly as Jussi Adler-Olsen, which is clearly amongst the many reasons why he is so highly esteemed internationally. While I don’t want to touch on the plot in detail, I was swept away to another world, particularly with the personal details surrounding Rose and her past. Even during the uglier moments, the author crafted a breathtaking beauty into the narrative just with the words he chose. If you enjoy reading translations, the Department Q series is one you’ll want to add to your list, as it’s one of the best english translations I’ve read yet.

Again, I can’t really speak for the previous novels in the series, unless you count my anxious excitement to read them as soon as possible, but if they are anything like The Scarred Woman I’m in for a serious treat. Nordic crime fiction is a genre I’ve grown highly fond of over the past year, and I’m pleased as punch to be adding this author and series to my fast growing list of international favorites. At the moment I can’t think of another author who writes quite like this, but if you’re a fan of the genre in general you really should jump on the Jussi train! Highly recommended as dark literature written with beauty and class, I think we’ll be seeing the DQ series going on for many more years to come.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here!

11 thoughts on “Review: The Scarred Woman”

  1. I won this one in a Goodreads giveaway and haven’t read any others. I was wondering whether I should read it or wait until I have time to start the series properly, so I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this one as a standalone. I’ll have to read mine now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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