The Keeper of Lost Causes
by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Translated by: Lisa Hartford
Read: Oct. 3– Oct. 8, 2011
Challenge: TwentyEleven Challenge
Yearly Count: 59
Source: Library Copy
Blurb: The Keeper of Lost Causes, the first installment of Jussi Adler-Olsen’s international bestselling 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 Carol, 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 investigation division that turns out to be a department of one. With a stack of Copenhagen’s coldest cases to keep him company, Carol has been put out to pasture. So he’s as surprised as anyone when a case actually captures his interest. A politician vanished without a trace five years earlier. The world assumes she’s dead. His colleagues snicker abou the time he’s wasting. But Carl may have the last laugh, and redeem himself in the process.
Because she isn’t dead … yet.
Review: I’m honestly torn on how to rate this book. I’m not really sure where to begin, so I’ll just start from the beginning and work my way to the end (with as few spoilers as possible, of course).
This book alternates between the perspective of Merete Lynggaard, the politician who disappeared and everyone assumes is dead, and Carl Mørck, a detective who has survivor’s guilt after being involved in a shooting where his two colleagues weren’t as lucky as he was. I must say that when I first met Carl, I was not impressed. I wanted to shake him and say, “snap out of it!” But at the same time, I understood why he was feeling like he was … one of his colleagues lost his life and the other one is permanently paralyzed after a shooting in which Carl didn’t even pull his gun. But his attitude is not very likeable and I struggled with that throughout the entire book.
The next thing Carl knows he’s getting a promotion! That would definitely be the last thing anyone would expect, but they put him in the basement with Assad as his assistant. Now, let me just say that I loved Assad’s character. There was so much to him that was so surprising! He’s definitely a good match with Carl … it was really Assad’s interest that got Carl’s interest going in the Merete Lynggaard disappearance. And as Carl continues to dig deeper (while looking like he’s not doing anything) he realizes that there’s something not quite right about the case.
So now I’m to the point where I need to explain why I’m so torn on my opinion of this book. First of all, I didn’t like Carl’s character. Not one bit. He’s a jerk, plain and simple. He doesn’t care about his job anymore. He has a major beef with one of the detectives upstairs. He practically blackmailed his superiors because he knows how much money his new department has been allocated … and he knows that his department isn’t seeing all that money. He’s just not a nice guy.
But then there’s Assad. He’s a very likeable guy. He’s intriguing because we don’t really know anything about him. Carl doesn’t even believe him when he tells him he’s from Syria; Carl thinks he might be from Iraq. He’s definitely not who he says he is, that much is very clear. And he’s not doing what Carl thinks he’s doing when he sends him up to talk to Hardy, Carl’s paralyzed colleague. But then again, it’s really Assad who pushes Carl to work hard on this case. It’s Assad who gets him interested. It’s Assad who really comes up with some great ideas to work the case with.
So I guess the next logical question would be: will I read more in this series? I’m honestly torn. I’m not sure I could stand another book of Carl’s attitude. But at the same time, I would love to know more about Assad and who he really is. Overall, I put this book at a 3.5 rating, which is somewhere between good and really good. If I had liked Carl’s character just a little bit more, I could have given it a 4, but I just can’t bring myself to do that. I think I could recommend this book to other readers, but I don’t think it would be a good fit for everybody.