Monday, September 12, 2011

The Keeper of Lost Causes - Jussi Adler-Olsen

Yes, there is a plethora (I love that word) of Nordic and Scandinavian authors making their names known in North America lately, but here's one you want to take note of and write down - Jussi Adler-Olsen. Adler-Olsen is the author of the "Department Q" series featuring Carl Morck. The Keeper of Lost Causes is the first in the series and newly released in North America.

"Twenty-five years on the police force and ten in the homicide division has hardened him. That's how things had gone until the day when a murder case pierced his armour." Both figuratively and literally.

Carl has just returned to the force since a situation gone terribly wrong leaves his partner paralyzed and Carl seriously wounded. His usual inability to get along with others gets even worse as he attempts to come to terms with his guilt. His superior, under pressure to deal with cold cases, see a win-win situation. Assign Carl to head up what will be the new 'Department Q'. And the department consists of only Carl until he demands an administrative assistant. Assad is assigned to work in the basement with Carl. Assad is a bit of a mystery as we come to discover.

The interplay between these two characters is fantastic.  Carl's skills as a detective really are unparalleled in the department. Assad's myriad set of skills are revealed as the two work together reopening the case of a missing politician, gone for five years and presumed drowned.

The politician's fate is slowly revealed in flashback chapters as Carl and Assad uncover more and more that indicates the case was never properly investigated the first time.

"She was going to look after herself. For them she was the woman in the cage, but she was the one who decide how far apart the bars would be. She would think thought that opened out on to the world and kept madness at bay. They would never break her. that's what she decided as she lay there on the floor...."

This was just a fantastic read for me. Adler-Olsen's dialogue runs the gamut from comic to compassionate. The plot is frightening and well thought out. The manner in which the case is slowly revealed was absolutely addicting, keeping me reading until late in the night. Carl's personal life is a mess, providing a secondary plot line that was also entertaining. But it is the flawed characters of Carl and Assad that are the real draw for me.

A five star read for me - highly recommended. Adler-Olsen has released the fourth book of the Department Q series in Denmark. This reader will be eagerly awaiting the next North American release.

Read an excerpt of The Keeper of Lost Causes.


bermudaonion said...

My indie bookseller raves about this title and gave me an ARC to read. I'm glad to see you loved it too.

Dorte H said...

As the Danish crime novels that have been translated so far are of varied quality (if you ask me), I am really happy that finally they have picked one of the truly great series :)

I have read four of Adler-Olsen´s, and I think they get better and better.

Sarah M said...

I have this from Netgalley, Glad to hear it's a great read.

rural2 said...

How can I get the other "Dept Q" books? This book is also available under the name "Mercy". I bought both by mistake. Alex S.

Luanne said...


Only the first one has been released in North America so far. With the success of this book, the other 3 can't be far behind!