Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Keeper of Lost Causes

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Carl Mørck is a Danish homicide policeman. He was considered one of the best. In his last case he was shot in the head, another officer died and his partner is paralyzed and suicidal. He is feeling guilty. Mørck is now disgruntled, morose and abrasive. The other officers want nothing to do with him.

Copenhagen police have been instructed to set up a Department Q which will look at cold cases of national interest. Mørck is promoted and set up as the department chief in the basement of headquarters. Mørck thinks this is his dream job where he does not have to do anything but put his feet up, smoke and dream his life away.

Mørck finds out that along with the creation of the new department is a large budget which the homicide department is intending to use. He bargains and gets an assistant, Assad, a car and some needed equipment. Ah, life is so easy!!

However, Assad who is really the janitor prods Mørck to actually do his job. Mørck selects the five year case of Merete Lynggaard who is missing and presumed killed. Lynggaard was the head of the Social Democrat party and a bright and shining star on the political scene.

In a parallel story the novel traces Lynggaard who is held in a pressure chamber and her torture over the past years.

Mørck is be-leaguered, difficult and disliked by his colleagues but the reader sees through this and understands his flaws which makes this protagonist one of my favourites. There is an aura of mystery surrounding Assad which I hope will be probed further as this series progresses.

An excellent read.

First Line: "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."



Michelle M. said...

Oh, this one sounds good. Are there previous in a series? Should I read these first?

Dana said...

This is the first in the series. Evidently 3 more in the Dept Q series have already been printed in Danish but not yet translated. This book is also known by the title Mercy