Title: The Keeper of Lost Causes
Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Release Date: August 23, 2011
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Detective Carl Morck is emotionally wounded after a shooting left one of his partners dead and the other paralyzed. He has become a liability to his department, and they plot to push him aside by promoting him to the head of Department Q, a new department directed by the government to solve old Danish cold cases. What the department doesn’t expect, though, is that Morck will take his new position seriously and resurrect the case of Merete Lynggaard, an up-and-coming politician who disappeared from a ferry five years earlier.
Jussi Adler-Olsen is the latest Scandavian author billed to be the next “Stieg Larsson”. Is he? I say it’s irrelevant because Adler-Olsen stands on his own two feet with The Keeper of Lost Causes. It’s a well-written and gripping thriller that will keep readers hooked from beginning to end.
The reader is treated to two different perspectives in The Keeper of Lost Causes. The first is Carl Morck. Carl isn’t the easiest person to like initially, but he grows on the reader as the book progresses. He is tortured by the shooting that left his partner paralyzed, as Morck thinks it’s his fault for not drawing his gun. Morck is shrewd and knows how to play the political game; he uses his knowledge as leverage in order to gain an assistant and some resources for Department Q. He’s a great main character and has as-yet unimagined depths for the reader to explore over the course of future novels.
The other perspective in The Keeper of Lost Causes is that of Merete Lynggaard, who is being held by persons unknown. The novel details her bizarre and twisted confinement, and here is where the book becomes incredibly dark. Who is doing this to Merete, and why? What is the point of these experiments, except to probe the limits of what the human psyche can withstand? What Merete must undergo is incredibly disturbing, and readers will root for her as they hope that Carl will find her before it’s too late.
The Keeper of Lost Causes is twisted and at times horrifying, but it’s also got memorable characters in Carl and his assistant Assad. They develop a great relationship over the course of the novel; each is appealingly flawed, and their banter is surprisingly funny for such a dark novel. I found this novel to be completely gripping and am glad that Jussi Adler-Olsen is receiving acclaim in the United States for this book, as he certainly deserves it.