BY JEFF AYERS Associated Press

A message in a bottle propels Detective Carl Morck and his team from Department Q, a special branch of the Copenhagen Police Department that examines cold-case crimes, into a bizarre case in Jussi Adler-Olsen’s latest page-turning psychological thriller, “A Conspiracy of Faith.”

The bottle has been sitting on a shelf for years, and the message inside has withered due to exposure to sunlight. What can be deciphered is the first word: Help. The rest is nothing but random letters. Can Morck and his team figure out who wrote the letter and, if it’s not a hoax, whether the author is still alive?

Adler-Olsen also tells the story of a housewife named Mia. Her husband works in a job that keeps him away from home for long stretches of time. She begins to question what he’s doing when he’s gone.

The heroes and villains of “A Conspiracy of Faith” are compelling, and it’s impossible to put down the book even though, at times, it’s difficult to read because of the sheer terror of the scene the author is describing.

This is the third book in a series that includes “The Keeper of Lost Causes” and “The Absent One,” but newcomers won’t feel lost.

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