An extract from The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Hi everyone,

Today is publication day for Jussi Adler-Olsen’s The Scarred Woman and I’m delighted to be able to share an excerpt with you all. First though, here’s the all-important bookish information!

About the book:

 

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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.

You can grab your copy by clicking HERE!

About the author:

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Jussi Adler-Olsen is Denmark’s #1 crime writer and a New York Times bestselling author. His books, including the Department Q series, routinely top the bestseller lists in Europe and have sold more than fifteen million copies around the world. His many prestigious Nordic crime-writing awards include the Glass Key Award, also won by Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbø, Stieg Larsson, and Peter Høeg.

 

Excerpt:

1
Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

As always, her face bore traces of the night before. Her skin was dry,
and the dark circles under her eyes were more pronounced than they’d
been when she went to bed.
Denise sneered at her reflection in the mirror. She had now spent
an hour on damage control, but it was never good enough.
“You look and smell like a hooker,” she said, mimicking her grandmother’s
voice as she applied her eyeliner one more time.
In the studio apartments around her, the noise signaled that the
other tenants were waking up and that it would soon be evening
again. It was a well-known cacophony of sounds: the chinking of bottles,
the knocking on doors to bum cigarettes, and the constant traffic
to and from the run- down toilet with shower that the contract described
as exclusive.
The small society of Danish outcasts from one of the darker streets
of Frederiksstaden was now set in motion for yet another evening
with no real purpose.
After turning around a few times, she stepped toward the mirror
to inspect her face close-up.
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” She
laughed with an indulgent smile as she caressed her reflection with her
fingertips. She puckered her lips, let her fingers slide up her hips, over
her breasts, up to her neck, and into her hair. She picked some fluff
from her angora blouse and dabbed a little foundation on a couple of
insufficiently covered blemishes on her face before stepping back with
satisfaction. Her plucked and painted eyebrows, together with
NeuLash- enhanced eyelashes, added to her overall appearance. The
makeup, paired with the glow of her irises, gave her a more intense
look, adding with ease an extra element of aloofness.
In other words, she was ready to take on the world.
“I’m Denise,” she practiced saying, tensing her throat. It was as
deep as her voice could be.
“Denise,” she whispered, slowly parting her lips and letting her
chin drop toward her chest. The result was fantastic when she adopted
this attitude. Some might interpret her look as submissive, but it was
exactly the opposite. Wasn’t it precisely at this angle that the
hotspots—a woman’s eyelashes and pupils—best caught the attention
of those around her?
Totally in control. She nodded, screwing the lid of her face cream
back on and piling her arsenal of cosmetics back in the bathroom
cabinet.
After a quick look around the small room she realized that hours
of hard work lay ahead of her: clearing away the laundry, making the
bed, washing all the glasses, taking out the trash, and sorting all the
bottles.
Fuck it, she thought, grabbing the duvet and shaking it and plumping
the pillow, convincing herself that when one of her sugar daddies
had made it this far, he wouldn’t give a damn about the rest.
She sat on the edge of the bed and checked that her handbag had
all the essentials she would need.
She nodded with satisfaction. She was ready to take on the world
and all its desires.
An unwelcome sound made her turn to face the door. Click, clack,
click, clack, came the limping, loathsome sound.
You’re far too early, Mother, she thought as the door outside between
the stairs and the corridor was pushed open.
It was almost eight o’clock, so why was she coming now? It was
way past her dinnertime.
She counted the seconds, already feeling irritated as she got up
from the bed, when the knock came at the door.
“Honey!” she heard her mother shouting from the other side.
“Won’t you open the door?” Denise took deep breaths, remaining silent.
If she didn’t answer, her mother would surely just go.
“Denise, I know you’re in there. Open up just for a moment. I have
something important to tell you.”
Denise sighed. “And why should I do that? I don’t suppose you
brought any dinner up with you?” she shouted.
“Not today, no. Oh, won’t you come downstairs to eat, Denise? Just
for today. Your grandmother is here!”
Denise rolled her eyes. So her grandmother was downstairs. The
mere thought was enough to make her heart race and cause her to
break out in a sweat.
“Grandmother can kiss my ass. I hate that bitch.”
“Oh, Denise, you mustn’t talk like that. Won’t you just let me in for
a moment? I really must speak with you.”
“Not now. Just leave the dinner in front of the door, as usual.”
Apart from the man with the flabby skin who lived a few doors down
the corridor, who had already downed his first beer of the day and
was now sobbing in despair over his miserable existence, it was suddenly
totally quiet out in the corridor. It wouldn’t surprise her if
everyone was pricking up their ears right at this moment, but what
did she care? They could just ignore her mother like she did.
Denise filtered out the sound of her mother’s pleas, concentrating
instead on the whining coming from the loser down the hall. All the
divorced men like him living in studio apartments were just so pathetic
and laughable. How could they believe the future might be
brighter given how they looked? They stank of unwashed clothes and
drank themselves into oblivion in their pitiful loneliness. How could
these cringeworthy idiots live with being so pathetic?
Denise snorted. How often had they stood in front of her door in
an effort to tempt her with their small talk and cheap wine from Aldi,
their eyes betraying hope of something else and more?

As if she would ever associate with men who lived in studio
apartments.
“She’s brought money with her for us, Denise,” her mother said
insistently.
Now she had Denise’s attention.
“You simply have to come down with me because if you don’t she
won’t give us anything for this month.”
There was a pause before she spoke again.
“And then we really won’t have anything, will we, Denise?” she
said severely.
“Can’t you shout a little louder so they can also hear you in the
next building?” Denise retorted.
“Denise!” Her mother’s voice was now quivering. “I’m warning
you. If your grandmother doesn’t give us that money, you’ll have to
go to the social services office because I haven’t paid your rent for this
month. Or maybe you thought I had?”
Denise took a deep breath, went over to the mirror, and put on her
lipstick one final time. Ten minutes with the woman and then she was
out of there. She had nothing but shit and confrontation coming her
way. The bitch wouldn’t leave her in peace for a second. She would
just come with demand after demand. And if there was something
Denise couldn’t deal with, it was all the demands people put on her. It
simply drained all the life and energy out of her.
It depleted her.
Down on the first floor in her mother’s apartment there was a not unexpected
stench of tinned mock turtle soup. Once in a while it might
be cutlets only just past their sell-by date or rice pudding in sausageshaped
plastic packaging. There wasn’t exactly entrecôte on the menu
when her mother attempted to put out a spread, which the blemished
silver-plated candlesticks with spluttering candles emphasized.
In this flickering artificial ambience the vulture was already seated
at the center of the table, scowling and ready to attack. Denise was
almost knocked out from the stench of her cheap perfume and powder,
which no shop with any self-respect would demean itself to sell.
Now her grandmother parted her dry, red, blotchy lips. Maybe the
vulture was preparing to smile, but Denise was not so easily fooled.
She attempted to count to ten but this time made it to only three before
the woman’s verbal abuse began.
“Well! The little princess could finally find time to come down and
say hello.”
A dark and disapproving look came over the grandmother’s face
after a quick inspection of Denise’s seminude midriff.
“Already plastered with makeup and I don’t know what. No one
will miss you coming, because that really would be a catastrophe,
wouldn’t it, Dorrit?”
“Would you stop calling me that? It’s almost ten years since I
changed my name.”
“Since you ask so politely, yes, as it isn’t something one is accustomed
to from you. Then you think that name becomes you better, do
you . . . Denise? A little more French. It almost puts one in mind of
the suggestively dressed ladies of the night, so, yes, maybe it is more
fitting.” She looked her up and down. “Then congratulations with the
camouflage work, is all I can say. You’ve prepared yourself for the
hunt, I wouldn’t wonder.”
Denise noticed how her mother tried to calm the mood with a slight
touch of her hand on her grandmother’s arm, as if that had ever
worked. Even in that area her mother had always been weak.
“And what have you been up to, if one might inquire?” continued
her grandmother. “There was something about a new course, or was
it actually an internship?” She squinted. “Was it a job as a nail technician
you wanted to try this time? I almost can’t keep up with all the
excitement in your life, so you’ll have to help me. But wait, maybe
you’re not actually doing anything at the moment? Could that be it?”
Denise didn’t answer. She just tried to keep her lips sealed. Her
grandmother raised her eyebrows. “Oh yes, you’re much too precious
for work, aren’t you?”

Why did she bother asking when she had all the answers? Why was
she sitting there hiding behind her wiry grey hair in a mask of disgust?
It made you want to spit at her. What stopped her from doing it?
“Denise has decided to enroll in a course to learn how to coach
people,” interjected her mother bravely.
The metamorphosis was enormous. Her grandmother’s mouth was
open, aghast; the wrinkles on her nose disappeared; and after a short
pause the change was accompanied by a laugh that came so deep from
within her rotten core that it made the hair on Denise’s neck stand
on end.
“Oh, that’s what she’s decided, is it? An interesting thought, Denise
coaching other people. Just in what, exactly, if I might inquire? Is it
actually possible to find anyone in this disturbed world who would
want to be coached by someone who can do absolutely nothing besides
dolling themselves up? In that case, the world must have come
to a complete standstill.”
“Mother—” Denise’s mother attempted to interrupt.
“Be quiet, Birgit. Let me finish.” She turned toward Denise. “I will
be direct. I don’t know anyone as lazy, talentless, or with so little sense
of reality as you, Denise. Shall we agree that you actually can’t do anything?
Isn’t it high time that you tried to get a job to fit your modest
talents?” She waited for an answer, but none was forthcoming. She
shook her head, leaving Denise in no doubt as to what was coming next.
“I have said it before and I have warned you, Denise. Maybe you
think it is acceptable to just lie on your back? It’s downright shocking.
You’re not as beautiful as you think, my dear, and certainly won’t be
in five years, I’m afraid.”
Denise inhaled deeply through her nose. Two more minutes and
she’d be out of here.
Now her grandmother turned to her mother with the same cold,
contemptuous expression. “You were the same, Birgit. Thought only of
yourself, never doing anything to get on in life. What would you have
done without your father and me? If we hadn’t paid for everything
while you squandered life away in your self-obsessed megalomania?”

“I have worked, Mother.” Her tone was pitiable. It was years since
her ammunition of protests hadn’t fallen on deaf ears.
It was now Denise’s turn again, as her grandmother turned her attention
back toward her, shaking her head.
“And as for you! You couldn’t even get a job folding clothes, if
that’s what you think.”
Denise turned around and disappeared into the kitchen with the
poison from her grandmother trailing behind her.
If it was possible to see what was inside her grandmother, the ingredients
could be laid out in equal measure of intense hatred, vengeance,
and unending images of how different she thought everything
had once been. Denise had heard the same fake nonsense over and
over, and it was irritatingly hurtful every time. About what a good
family she and her mother came from; about the golden years when
her grandfather had had his shoe shop in Rødovre and earned really
good money.
All a load of crap! Hadn’t the women in this family always stayed
at home and done their duty? Hadn’t they been supported solely by
their husbands, been meticulous about their appearance, and looked
after the home?
Hell yes!
“Mother! You mustn’t be too hard on her. She—”
“Denise is twenty- seven and is good for exactly nothing, Birgit.
Nothing!” shouted the witch. “How do you two propose to survive
when I’m not here anymore, can you answer me that? Don’t for one
second expect any significant inheritance from me. I have my own
needs.”
Something else they had heard a hundred times before. In a moment
she would attack Denise’s mother again. She would call her
shabby and a failure, before accusing her of passing on all her negative
qualities to her granddaughter.
Denise felt disgust and hatred right to the pit of her stomach. She
hated the shrill voice, attacks, and demands. Hated her mother for being
so weak and for not having been able to keep a man who could
look after them all. Hated her grandmother precisely because that was
what she had done.
Why wouldn’t she just lie down and die?
“I’m out of here,” said Denise coldly when she stepped back into
the dining room.
“Oh, are you, now? Well then, you won’t be having this.” Her
grandmother pulled a bundle of notes from her handbag and held it
in front of them. One-thousand-kroner notes.
“Come and sit down now, Denise,” her mother implored.
“Yes, come and sit down for a moment before you go out and sell
yourself,” came the next tirade from her grandmother. “Eat your
mother’s awful meal before you head out to find men to ply you with
booze. But be careful, Denise, because the way you are, you’ll never
find a decent man who’ll go for you! A cheap girl with fake hair and
hair color, fake breasts, fake jewelry, and bad skin. Don’t you think
they’ll see through you in a second, my dear? Or maybe you think a
decent man can’t tell the difference between elegance and your cheap
appearance? Maybe you don’t think that as soon as you open your
bloodred mouth that he’ll immediately discover that you know absolutely
nothing and have nothing to say? That you’re just a waste of
space?”
“You don’t know shit,” snapped Denise. Why wouldn’t she stop?

 

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