Jussi Adler-Olsen, Journal 64 (2010)

Bogen er den fjerde i serien om Carl Mørck, Assad og Rose, som stadig holder til i kælderen under politigården.

Det hele begynder i 1985, da Nete Rosen, den ansete direktørs ansete hustru, er til hyldestmiddag for en nobelprismodtager. En person fra hendes fortid forstyrrer idyllen, da han føler sig forpligtet til at oplyse selskabet om Netes fortid på Sprogø.

Adler-Olsen har vævet et spændende plot med tråde til De Kellerske Anstalter, især de ´letlevende´ kvinder som blev anbragt på Sprogø for at beskytte samfundet mod deres hærgen, og et moderne parti, som kæmper for at blive opstillingsberettiget. Deres væsentligste program er at videreføre nazisternes ideer om racehygiejne, ikke blot ved at forhindre uegnede i at blive gravide, men også via et temmelig vidtgående abortprogram.

Nye spor dukker også op i den sag som medførte, at Carls ene makker døde, og at den anden blev lammet og ligger hjemme i Carls stue som et åbent sår, men det var først og fremmest sagen om kvinderne fra Sprogø, som holdt min opmærksomhed fangen. En grusom historie om en lang række kvinder, som blev udsat for misbrug og svigt, og hvordan dette misbrug kan føre til ønsker om hævn adskillige år senere. Så bogen byder på en spændende og dramatisk historie, men den er mere end blot underholdning.

Læst for Bogudfordringen 2011, august: en mandlig, dansk forfatter. Jeg købte bogen selv.

Jussi Adler-Olsen, Case Sheet 64.

As my English readers will probably not see the fourth story about Carl Mørck for years, this is not a review, but a short introduction to the theme.

The background for the plot is the true story about the Keller Institutions. The instutions were supposed to be for the mentally handicapped, and initially there was certainly a good deal of idealism behind the beautiful buildings in idyllic surroundings with plenty of space and fresh air. So originally, they were probably far better for the patients than being confined in locked rooms at home, but later new homes were opened for people who were deemed morally deficient, e.g. ´loose women´ and other ´antisosocial´ elements of society.

Besides, the suggestions of this story that some members of the staff abused their power with terrifying results are probably true. Many of the women were not discharged until they had been sterilized, even though nothing was wrong with them, apart from having been born into poor homes with little support and guidance. These institutions were finally closed in 1961, the year when I was born.

So like Stieg Larsson and many other Scandinavian writers, Adler-Olsen offers more than a good story, he also wants to inform the readers about the abuse of disadvantaged women, but he weaves his knowledge about their conditions into the plot in a way so it never feels like being lectured.

About Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen

I am a Danish teacher. In my spare time I read, write and review crime fiction.
This entry was posted in Danish, Jussi Adler-Olsen, review, review 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Jussi Adler-Olsen, Journal 64 (2010)

  1. kathy d. says:

    This is awful to read about. This kind of thing happened in the United States, especially in the South with poor women (and some men, too), African Americans and others. There was a recent statewide hearing in North Carolina where officials heard testimony of adults who had been sterilized when they were teen-agers for no reason, other than being poor and Black. The hearing was taking up if they should now get financial compensation. I hope so, but it won’t erase the emotional pain they have gone through and are still experiencing.
    Thanks for posting this information.

  2. Sadly it is not a story unique to Denmark…or the US. One of my very first grown up jobs was working for a commission of enquiry into a similar institution in the state I lived in then,,,the place had only closed down in 1957.

    Thanks for sharing, it is good background for when the book finally makes its way into English

  3. Ellen says:

    JAO er en af de forfattere, der fænger mig fra linje 1 – ganske som Stieg Larsson, som du nævner i dit indlæg, gjorde. Jeg håber Jussi kan finde på mange flere bøger om trekløveret i kælderen.

  4. Norman says:

    Dorte-this story is horribly familiar. You can add the UK to the list, and it takes a real scandal to force the authorities to take action, while other abuse, such as people having their homes sold from around them, goes on and on.

  5. Dorte – There were places like that in the U.S., too. It seems this is a worldwide blot on our past… Thanks for this background and for the review. I’m going to really be interested in reading this one….

  6. Kathy: I know such things have happened everywhere, but sometimes I think it is useful for me to be reminded that we also have our ´black spots´, stories we should not be proud of but learn from.
    Bernadette: I will try to remember to recycle my post when the book is translated. It may be useful background information.
    Ellen: ja, vi har slet ikke fået nok af Carl Mørck & co endnu!
    Norman: I know it is a far too common story – that is why it is important that some writers remember our unglorious past for us.
    Margot: for me the awful pre-history definitely added a layer to the book.

  7. What a serious novel. I’m glad people write about the injustices that happened in the past. It’s so important that we learn from these.

  8. Bill Selnes says:

    Dorte: I keep looking for Adler-Olsen books but they have not yet made it to this part of Canada.

    You can add Canada to the shameful list. Not long ago there was an inquiry in the next province, Alberta, on sterilization of mentally challenged or allegedly challenged patients. Eugenics were cruel. More on what happened in Alberta is available at the following location – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_Sterilization_Act_of_Alberta

  9. Clarissa: the subject is very serious, and he never makes fun of the abused women, but the book as such is not very dark.

    Bill: I am sure you will get his books before or later.
    And I know that eugenics was horribly widespread a few decades ago. What is even worse is that it seems as some political parties want it all back.

  10. kathy d. says:

    Yes, I absolutely agree that this story should be told, and that the public should know more about it. Fiction is a great way to do so; it educates many readers.
    And many politicians do want do want to turn social progress back decades. The U.S. certainly has plenty of these, unfortunately.

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