The Keeper of Lost Causes Summary and Reviews

The Keeper of Lost Causes

by Jussi Adler-Olsen

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen X
The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2011
    400 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

The Keeper of Lost Causes, the first installment of Adler-Olsen's Department Q series, features the deeply flawed chief detective Carl Morck, who used to be a good homicide detective - one of Copenhagen's best. Then a bullet almost took his life. Two of his colleagues weren't so lucky, and Carl, who didn't draw his weapon, blames himself.

So a promotion is the last thing Carl expects.

But it all becomes clear when he sees his new office in the basement. Carl's been selected to run Department Q, a new special investigations division that turns out to be a department of one. With a stack of Copenhagen's coldest cases to keep him company, Carl's been put out to pasture. So he's as surprised as anyone when a case actually captures his interest. A missing politician vanished without a trace five years earlier. The world assumes she's dead. His colleagues snicker about the time he's wasting. But Carl may have the last laugh, and redeem himself in the process.

Because she isn't dead... yet.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The pages fly by as the twisty puzzle unfolds. Stieg Larsson fans will be delighted." - Publishers Weekly

"...[A] big, leisurely Scandinavian thriller with dark hints of conspiracy, clunky descriptions, dozens of plot complications and the world's most unnuanced villains." - Kirkus Reviews

"Starred Review. This absorbing psychological thriller is recommended not only for fans of Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbø, and Stieg Larsson but for true crime aficionados who might like to try fiction." - Library Journal

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Cloggie Downunder

a brilliant start to the series and an excellent example of Danish Crime Fiction.
The Keeper of Lost Causes (also titled Mercy) is the first book in the Department Q series by Danish author Jussi Adler Olsen. It’s early 2007, and Homicide Detective Carl Morck has returned to duty. Some weeks earlier, a shooting at a murder scene at Amager left one of his colleagues dead, the other paralysed with spinal injuries. Carl may be an outstanding detective, but his lack of people skills is wearing thin on the Homicide Department of the Copenhagen Police Force. The solution comes in the form of his appointment as head of the newly formed (politically instigated) Department Q, which will handle nationwide “cases deserving special scrutiny”.

It looks like Carl will be doing all the work. Not that he cares: the shooting of his colleagues, still unsolved, has left him riddled with a deep-seated guilt and beset by an apathy he has never before known. A number of case files is delivered to his basement office, and after a cursory sorting of the folders, Carl settles back to examine the insides of his eyelids. But the assistant he has been assigned, a Syrian refugee who is meant to do cleaning and filing, seems to have other ideas. Assad’s enthusiasm isn’t exactly contagious, but soon enough, Carl finds himself intrigued by the case Assad has selected.

In early 2002, politician Merete Lynggaard disappeared from a ferry on her way to Berlin with her psychologically disabled (mute) younger brother, Uffe. While most believed she had drowned, no remains were ever found. Uffe was unable to shed light on her fate. Carl and Assad believe they are looking for a murder victim, but an alternate narrative that starts in 2002 and is intermittently inserted between chapters from Morck’s 2007 perspective lets the reader know otherwise.

Adler-Olsen gives the reader a riveting tale with an intricately woven plot and an exciting climax. His characters are multi-dimensional, and their dialogue is often a source of humour. The way Carl drops the occasional remark to point the Homicide crew in the right direction on their current cases is also fun. The mystery of the Amager shooting is not resolved and is one of several strands that provide potential material for further books (of which there are currently six). Assad is a delightful surprise whose inner workings will, no doubt, also be explored further. This is a brilliant start to the series and an excellent example of Danish Crime Fiction.

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Author Information

Jussi Adler-Olsen Author Biography

Photo: Phillip Drago Joergensen

Jussi Adler-Olsen was born in Copenhagen and worked as a magazine editor and publisher before starting to write. Redemption is the third novel in the Department Q series, following on from Disgrace and Mercy. Jussi Adler-Olsen holds the prestigious Glass Key Award, given annually for a crime novel by a Scandinavian author, and is also winner of the Golden Laurels, Denmark's highest literary accolade.

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