The Keeper of Lost Causes, the first installment of Adler- Olsen’s Department Q series, features the deeply flawed chief detective Carl MØrck, 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.
I chose this book because I really got into The Girl Who Played with Fire, and this book has some of the same elements, namely the WTF-is-all-this-Danish-government-slash-political-talk? The Traffic Commission? How cute. Also, how boring. But at least this one picks up MUCH faster than Larsson’s books ever did, and I found myself intrigued after reading only the prologue. Eventually we figure out that this story follows to people and two distinct timelines. One, in 2007, follows Carl, who is finding his fire again after having lost it six months before; and the other, in 2002, follows Merete, who is about to disappear.
Carl Morck is your typical middle-aged, burnt-out man just plodding along in his job. He’s had a hard six months, but Merete’s about to have it way worse. It’s hard to review something like this for fear of spoiling, but I can say that this book is full of suspense and action, and I didn’t know who the killer was until Morck figured it out. The book doesn’t end the way you expect it to either. It’s twisty, and it has turns you don’t expect. Once I hit the one-quarter mark, I was hooked, and it was impossible to put the book back down.
There is one thing I thought was an issue, but now I’m not sure. Carl has an “assistant” named Assad, who is ostensibly from Syria and in Denmark as a refugee (and permanent resident). At first, I thought Assad was some Danish version of Tonto Syndrome and was ready to get really up in arms about how worldwide racism has really taken a turn for the worse when it comes to Islamophobia, but… I’m not sure what Adler-Olsen was going for with the character of Assad, but there’s more to him than meets the eye, and he is not just comic relief. He was an integral part of the book.
In all, I think this one is definitely worth reading. It does seem similar in writing style to Larsson, but that may just be translation, and the rest of the book is a departure from Larsson for sure. This is the first in a series, so I’ll be picking up the next one as soon as I can.