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Following a failed operation, chief detective Carl Mørck is assigned to Department Q, a department for old, terminated cases. It consists only of himself and his new assistant Assad. Although they get orders to only read and sort through the cases, Carl’s stubborn nature quickly throws them headfirst into the mystery of Merete Lynggaard’s disappearance. The beautiful politician vanished five years ago from a passenger ferry, the only witness being her brain-damaged brother who was found on the deck, screaming at the top of his lungs. The case was put to rest as an apparent suicide, but unconvinced by this explanation, Carl and Assad venture on a journey that will take them deep beneath the polished surface of Scandinavia.