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The Keeper of Lost Causes: A Department Q Novel Hardcover – August 23, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 778 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Department Q Series

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Editorial Reviews


"Far from being just another morose Nordic crime writer, Adler-Olsen creates a detective whose curiosity is as active as his soul is tortured. The villain is a monster and the crime horrendous, but readers will root for the victim and for the belabored Department Q. 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, (starred review)

"The new 'it' boy of Nordic Noir." — The Times (London)

"The Keeper of Lost Causes is dark, atmospheric, and compelling. Those who loved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will devour this book." — C.J. Box, New York Times bestselling author of Cold Wind

"Gripping storytelling." — The Guardian

"Jussi Adler-Olsen tells his stories as wickedly as Dean Koontz and has his detectives work as hard as Stieg Larsson." — Jydske Vestkysten (Denmark)

"This novel is for every Scandinavian crime fiction fan a must-read!" — Hannoversche Allgemeine (Germany)

"As impressive as it is unnerving." — The Independent

"An unusually fine and extremely fascinating thriller, which will keep you breathless till the very last page." — politiken.dk

About the Author

Jussi Adler-Olsen is Denmark's #1 crime writer. This novel has already appeared at the top of bestseller lists in Denmark and Germany, and subsequent entries in the series debuted at #1.

Product Details

  • Series: A Department Q Novel
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton; First Edition edition (August 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525952489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525952480
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (778 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Scandinavian invasion continues with Jussi Adler-Olsen's "The Keeper of Lost Causes," translated from the Danish by Tïina Nunnally. The protagonist, Carl Mørck, is a deputy detective superintendent who has just been "promoted" to Department Q, of which he is the head and sole employee. His remit is to handle "cases deserving special scrutiny." Mørck is a chronic troublemaker ("lazy, surly, morose") who talks back to his bosses and does pretty much what he wants to do. He has never completely recovered from a tragic shooting that left his two partners dead and paralyzed respectively, and he still feels guilty that he could do nothing to save his colleagues. His wife left him, but she still badgers him; he has no social life to speak of; when he assumes his new position, he is relegated to a windowless basement office where, his superiors hope, he will remain out of sight and out of mind.

Everything changes when Carl demands an assistant. He gets a lot more than he bargained for--a Muslim named Assad who is a jack-of-all trades: Assad dons rubber gloves to clean thoroughly, makes bad coffee, drives like a madman, and acts like a Syrian Sherlock Holmes. Carl is content to put his feet up, smoke cigarettes, and do little or nothing, but Assad digs into the case files. He shows an amazing aptitude for locating valuable nuggets of information, gaining cooperation from secretaries and bureaucrats, and goading Carl into acting like a detective. This unlikely duo soon become obsessed with an extremely challenging cold case--the disappearance five years earlier of Merete Lynggaard, a beautiful, talented, and dedicated up-and-coming politician. Did Merete fall overboard while she was a passenger on a ferry? Did she commit suicide? Or did someone abduct her?
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's been a while since I've read a perfect book-- "The Keeper of Lost Causes," is absolutely phenomenal. The protagonist, Carl (I won't try to spell his last name because it has letters not on my keyboard) is destined to become a cherished lead character in the detective/murder mystery genre.

I don't know what is in the water in Scandinavia, but it sure seems to produce stellar writers. The story line may not be unique-- rough, gruff police detective who alienates everyone around him and is sent off to pursue and close 'lost cause' or cold cases that nobody expects him to actually solve. Of course it proves impossible to put Carl down and keep him down.

The main murder case in the book is absolutely chilling. It's not your standard predictable and gruesome serial killer. This is some bent and twisted stuff and it took me until about 3/4 of my way through the book until I started to put things together. The book is told from both Carl's and the victim's perspectives and the change of voice from chapter to chapter is incredibly well done.

Carl's character alone would have been enough for me to give this book 5 stars (or 6 if I could have!). But the book abounds with interesting, humorous, and 3-dimensional minor characters. From Carl's kind-of-ex-wife Vigga to his new assistant Assad, there is no shortage of fun to read interaction and dialogue. Of course the political situation in Denmark is also fresh (to me, at least) and interesting.

Like so many other American mystery readers I've been searching for other authors in the vein of Stieg Larsson. I think this book by Adler-Olsen is not only as good as the Larsson books, it may actually be better. I like Carl's personality and found his cynical (yet still oddly optimistic) style very engaging and frequently laughed out loud. I have my fingers crossed that all of Adler-Olsen's books will make it into the English language. If not, I may actually be compelled to learn Danish....
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Format: Hardcover
As close to perfect as a mystery can get, this award-winning novel by Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen provides an exciting and unique plot, and characters with whom the reader will identify. The novel is complex but not impossible to follow, and it is also genuinely heart-breaking in places without being sentimental. Warm and often very funny, it is also serious since Adler-Olsen creates an underlying thematic structure which gives a powerful kick as the novel comes to its conclusion.

Copenhagen Police Detective Carl Morck is an emotional mess. One of his partners was killed in a recent incident in which Morck was shot, and the other now lies hospitalized, paralyzed from the neck down. Described even on a good day as "lazy, surly, morose, always bitching, and [constantly] treating his colleagues like crap," Morck, upon his reluctant return to work, has not been welcomed back by anyone. When a new department, called Department Q, is created to work on "cases deserving special scrutiny," especially unsolved cases, the Chief of Homicide appoints Morck to run the one-man department--from the musty basement of the station.

His assistant is the ingenuous and charming, Hafez el-Assad, from Syria, who surreptitiously begins to investigate on his own. As time goes on, and Assad magically pries out information from the grumpiest of the secretaries "upstairs," he often yields remarkable new insights, eventually reawakening the professional curiosity of Carl Morck. Front and center is the case of Merete Lynggaard, vice-chairperson of the Social Democratic party, who was accompanying her mute and handicapped brother on a ferry when she suddenly vanished. After nearly five years, no trace of her has ever been found, and her brother, institutionalized, remains mute.
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