Copenhagen Cops – The Department Q Trilogy

So over the long Thanksgiving weekend, I think we had just one day when the Mouth that Roared (DJT) was thankfully silent. Taking advantage of that fact, I concentrated my efforts at watching a scruffy detective out of Copenhagen, Denmark, and his partner, solve three cases.

The series which I watched on the Netflix streaming service, is actually three two-hour films. Collectively the series is called Department Q – Trilogy. But the reality is that these films were produced in 2013, 2014, and the most recent in 2016.

The first is called The Keeper of Lost Causes (in Danish Kvinden i buret). Detective Carl Mørk is just back from an extended leave. He had been recuperating from something. Mørk is a smart, even a brilliant cop, but not one given to either following orders, or being a team player. His vices include being a heavy smoker and a drinker. He’s unkempt, and that’s being generous or kind.

He doesn’t shave (or likely bathe) very often and to say that the complete package of Homicide Detective Carl Mørk is distinctly an unpleasant person seems more than apt.


Anyway, he and his partner are on a stake out when they determine that their suspect is in the building in front of them. They are ordered to hold their positions and wait for back-up to arrive. But Mørk, played by Nikolaj Lie Kaas, isn’t about to sit there waiting. Against the orders issued and his partner’s reservations, they enter the building.

Shots are fired, and the partner is shot resulting in a serious wound. He lives but he may never walk again.

Mørk’s superiors are not happy. Not only did Mørk disobey direct orders, but now, no one is willing to work with him. So he’s removed from the Homicide Division. They demote him down to Department Q, a previously non-existent department. His task is to go through twenty years of  unsolved cold cases. In short, he’s been sent to the ‘Siberia’ of police posts anywhere in the world. Cold cases barely registers above evidence locker in most police departments. Solving the cases is not what the brass wanted. They wanted Mørk and company to simply clear the cases. The task is to close three cases a week with a written report.  In short make no waves.

Mørk is assigned a partner, a detective named Assad, played by Fares Fares, who you may have seen in Safe House, Zero Dark Thirty, and will soon be seen in the upcoming Star Wars film – Rogue One. While Mørk considers that he has been both demoted and tossed aside, Assad sees it as a promotion because he had been stamping paperwork at the train depot. Assad is a Muslim and has no personal life to speak of. He eats at the same diner every day of the week.

So to finish the set up – The Keeper of Lost Causes is about a politician who disappeared after boarding a ferry. They, the detectives who handled the original investigation have called it a suicide. But Mørk is not convinced. Check out the trailer for The Keeper of Lost Causes:

The second film is called The Absent One (in Danish – Fasandræberne). This one is about some murders in an exclusive and expensive private school. The belief is that a certain student witnessed a pair of murders of some students at this school. There’s another school of thought that this ‘witness’ also took part in these killings. By the way, this female student apparently has been missing since 1994. Seems like another lost cause doesn’t it?

This is not a story that Mørk can resist.  So while we viewers get to see the back story in a series of flashbacks, the detectives are not so fortunate as we are. So they start digging and some of the names involved are now very prominent and successful people.

Check out the trailer for The Absent One:

The third and newest film in the trilogy is called A Conspiracy of Faith in Danish – Flaskepost fra P). It came out in June of 2016.

This time Mørk and Assad face their sternest test. A bottle washes up on shore. Of course there’s a message in the bottle. It appears to have been written by a young child who can barely convey that he and his sister and brother are being held captive.

But through some science they are able to determine that some children went missing from a religious community 8 years ago. Mørk and Assad do what they always do – they work the case digging for leads and facts, as well as continuing to argue and fight. Assad argues that the message in the bottle came into their hands for a reason. It will help them solve the current case. Assad believes it was a message from God.

Mørk says, I don’t believe in God. I believe in jack-shit.

But if Mørk is less convinced than Assad and others about God, he is certainly right when he states – He’s not just a kidnapper, he’s a serial killer.

The trailer for A Conspiracy of Faith:

These are three stories about the darkness and evil that can be found all around us. Each of the films has strong sexual contact, beyond evil perpetrators, which just adds to the violence we see in each of the films.

Mørk is no one’s idea of heroic.  He is driven and single-minded in his ferocity to find the truth. Assad and Mørk are indeed a strange pair or said another way – a truly odd couple. But despite being at each other’s throats, they do make an effective set of case-solvers.

I am recommending this trilogy which you can also find on i-Tunes. Each of three are film adaptions of three novels penned by Jussi Adler-Olsen. This Danish writer has sold more than 15 million copies internationally of his books, and these three are just of the six novels in the Department Q series of fictional Copenhagen Detectives.

I do recommend that you watch these films in order. The first is quite scary, the second is the best of the lot, and the third one, the newest one has the best cinematography, and while it is the darkest and most horrific of the three stories, the film is a cut below the first two in appeal.


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