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The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi…

The Keeper of Lost Causes (2007)

by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Department Q (1)

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I've read MERCY (aka THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES) by Jussi Adler-Olsen twice now and finally I think I've got it the review straight in my head.

Why twice? The first time I read this book was right in the middle of a series of releases based around the woman locked in the basement scenario, and frankly, I was pissed off. Even though I really felt that this gross generalisation wasn't fair in the case of MERCY, this scenario had annoyed me so badly, objectiveness had become a real problem. So why reread and why now? Well a movie came out, and there were a lot more books in the Department Q series that I've been keen to try so a little reconsideration was required.

Based around the concept of cold cases, Carl Mørck is back with the Copenhagen Police Department, after six months sick leave recovering from being shot on duty. His colleague wasn't so lucky, still in hospital, paralysed and suffering.

Mørck has always been a difficult person to get on with and because of that the opportunity is taken to sideline him into “Department Q” the cold case unit. In the basement, where hopefully the lack of resources, and one suspects a general lack of oxygen / visibility get through to Mørck that he's not the most popular person. Which seems to be working on one level as he grudgingly shows up and spends most of his time solving Sudoko puzzles and playing games with the powers that be. Unfortunately one game – his demand for an assistant means he's lumbered with Hafez el-Assad, man who very much wants to be an investigator and doesn't agree that Department Q is the pits. When he finds something in the file on the disappearance of politician Merete Lynggaard, Mørck finds himself actually investigating something.

Alternating the viewpoints between the investigation and Lynnggaard in captivity brings an immediacy to the search. Whilst investigators have no idea if she is alive or dead, the reader knows she is, knows her state of mind, and knows her abductors are nearby.

With a clearer viewpoint of this concept there are obvious differences here – Lynggaard isn't being held as a sex slave or as a plaything of a nutter, but the reason she is being held isn't clear. And the cruelty and dispassionate behaviour of her abductors is staggering, uncomfortably so. As is the distress and the worry that everyone has for the brother she's left out in the real world. Badly equipped to handle it, he has an acquired brain injury as a result of the car accident that killed their parents when they were children. His suffering is as palpable as hers.

Aside from the difference that's now obvious – that this isn't an opportunistic tale of a woman in a basement after all, and add in the great characters of the investigators and this is really a strong opening book. The grumpiness of Mørck and the intelligence and compassion of Assad make them a great team. Having said that, grumpiness isn't the defining quality of Mørck when you're paying attention – there's a lot more to this story than greets the initial eye.

I have no explanation at all as to why I didn't see that the first time around, but I'm profoundly relieved that I had the sense to leave MERCY in the pile – knowing there was something wrong with my initial reaction but not able to articulate it.

http://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/review-mercy-jussi-adler-olsen ( )
  austcrimefiction | Oct 30, 2014 |
excellent, even though there's a big element of psychological thriller/torture that I usually can't tolerate. Karl Moll (? sp) and his new assistant, Hafaz el Assad (?sp) are so compleling.. ( )
  DavidO1103 | Oct 21, 2014 |

This is the first book in Jussi Alder-Olsen's Q-series concerning Danish police detective Carl Morck. I have to admit, I always liked reading Scandinavian detectives a lot. But after years of reading them, I grew a bit tired. Had they first been very new and not as cliché as most US/UK detectives, I got very used to the Scandinavian theme as well.

But this book was different, I really enjoyed it. It was an easy read, but very nice and with a lot of suspense in it.

That cage really was terrifying!

I've ever since reading this book planned to read the rest of this series, but so far, I've only read the second book. ( )
  Floratina | Sep 25, 2014 |
Very enjoyable, but unfortunately, the ending was easy to predict. ( )
  ScribbleKey | Jul 1, 2014 |
I don't as a general rule read police procedural or gritty crime novels. I watch them on TV but usually I don't read them. My attention is prone to wander when a crime novel gets bogged down in details that don't interest me. Having finally gotten around to reading the Stieg Larsson Millennium Trilogy last year, I can see where some novels of this type has a certain appeal. While Larsson and Adler-Olsen each place their own stamp on the crime novels they have written, they do have similarities that made it easy for me to make a side-by-side comparison of their first books. One characteristic both books share is the focus on the person and not the process. My preference is to read about complex characters and not the actual nitty-gritty of police work. Adler-Olsen provides my psychologically-driven mind with enough information to keep my mind in analysis mode regarding Carl's very dark and moody persona and his damaged past while at the same time providing a rather entertaining assistant in Assad, a political-refugee immigrant with a mysterious past of his own.

Adler-Olsen takes his time in framing his characters and the crime for the reader. The reveals are gradual, one piece of information at a time, and the story progresses at a more moderate, dare I say, sedate pace. Now, I like a story that has a slow build and takes it time with me. It makes it a lot easier for me to read the book in intervals spread out over time and not feel as thought I have to backtrack and refresh my memory when I do come back to it. I also like stories that are a bit of a mental puzzle to figure out. If I were to compare book one of the Larsson trilogy with this first book in a series I would have to say that while I prefer Larsson's characters, in particular the enigmatic Lisbeth Salander, Adler-Olsen has provided a better crime puzzle, IMO, to mentally analyze and figure out. For me, reading [The Keeper of Lost Causes] fit into my comfort zone as a read because I found it to be an interesting blending of the Larsson books with one of my favorite British TV series New Tricks, a cop show that follows the work of the fictional Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad for the London Metropolitan Police as they investigate old unsolved crimes.

For those of you who haven't already read this one, the ending makes the rather slow pace of the story worth while. Adler-Olsen has also left a lot of unfinished business as it relates to Carl Mørck, a character I admit to having difficulties to warm up to. While I wasn't riveted to the story, I found it to be a very satisfying read and I will continue with the series as I want to see how things progress in Department Q with Carl and Assad.

Best of all, this one contains the following fantastic book quote:

"She'd been lying on the floor thinking about books. That was something she often did in order not to think about the life she might have had, if only she'd made different choices. When she thought about books, she could move into a whole different world. Just remembering the feeling of the dry surface and inexplicable roughness of the paper could ignite a blaze of yearning inside of her. The scent of evaporated cellulose and printer's ink. Thousands of times now she'd sent her thoughts into her imaginary library and selected the only book in the world that she knew she could recall without embellishing it. It was not the one she wanted to remember, not even the one that had made the greatest impression on her. But it was the only book that had remained completely intact in her tortured memory because of the liberating bursts of laughter she associated with it.

A great big smile came to my face when the I discovered what book was being referred to by this quote. ( )
1 vote lkernagh | May 10, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jussi Adler-Olsenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
D'Avino, Maria ValeriaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Vries, KorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hartford, LisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krogstad, ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mendizábal, Juan MaríaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thiess, HannesÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vries, Kor deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Russian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Opgedragen aan Hanne Adler-Olsen.
Zonder haar zou de bron opdrogen.
Dedicated to Hanne Adler-Olsen. Without her, the well would run dry.
First words
Ze krabde haar vingertoppen tot bloedens toe open op de gladde wanden en sloeg met haar vuisten tegen de dikke ruiten tot ze haar handen niet meer voelde.
She scratched her fingertips on the smooth walls until they bled, and pounded her fists on the thick panes until she could no longer feel her hands.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Danish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

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Book description
Jussi Adler-Olsen is Denmark's premier crime writer. His books routinely top the bestseller lists in northern Europe, and he's won just about every Nordic crime-writing award, including the prestigious Glass Key Award — also won by Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson, and Jo Nesbo. Now he's introduced to America.

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.

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Chief detective Carl M?ck, recovering from what he thought was a career-destroying gunshot wound, is relegated to cold cases and becomes immersed in the five-year disappearance of a politician.

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141399961, 0718156889

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