Department Q may be the cold case unit of the Copenhagan Police, but its investigations are thankfully a long way removed from the old cops from the BBC’s New Tricks. The Absent One is the sequel to 2013’s The Keeper of Lost Causes which introduced hard-bitten Police Inspector Carl Mørck (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and his sidekick the Syrian born detective Assad (Fares Fares). Both films are based upon novels by Jussi Adler and I feel a huge Amazon purchase coming soon
Following a colleague’s retirement party Mørck is approached by a former cop who wants him to investigate the murder of his son and daughter from 20 years ago. Mørck puts it to the back of his mind until the old cop turns up dead in his bath, an apparent suicide. What Mørck and his partner then unearth is a whole raft of unsolved rapes and assaults that took place in the vicinity of an exclusive public school whose alumni include top industrialists, politicians and even the commissioner of Copenhagen’s police force.
Another alumni is potential witness Kimme, who was recorded attempting to make a confession by telephone, only she vanished into Copenhagen’s underworld 20 years ago. Trouble is Mørck and Assad are not the only people looking for her.
Corruption in high places and a top-level cover up at the original crime scene makes The Absent One an intriguing detective drama. The crumpled detective Mørck has the requisite intense emotional baggage to rival Wallander or Trapped‘s Andri Olafsson and naturally he does not play by the rules no matter how much Assad (and good to see a positive role for a muslim actor too) tries to reign him in either. The villain is pretty nasty which is always good and he has a particularly horrid sidekick. As we have come to expect from Scandi-noirs the action is tautly paced with the odd bit of disturbing, but entirely necessary violence and the cinematography has that wonderful air of muted melancholy, that Northern Europe is so good at.
Dazzling Danish crime caper I give The Absent One a 666/666
The Absent One is on release at UK cinemas now.