The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

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“For a long time she was truly afraid of going mad. Afraid of the day when all control slipped out of her hands. She made up images of the world and the light and the life outside. She took refuge in all the nooks and crannies of her brain- those areas that usually become silted up with the ambitions and trivialities of life. And memories of the past slowly surfaced. Tiny moments with hands that held her. Words that caressed and comforted. But also memories of loneliness and yearning and tireless striving.”

Sometimes you find small treasures on the subway. One night as I trudged home with the masses after a long day of work I noticed a poster across from where I was sitting that declared those who loved Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo would find a similar fill in a new series by Jussi Adler-Olsen beginning with The Keeper of Lost Causes. That claim on a subway poster did not fall far from its mark.

Carl Mørck is a brilliant detective, but one that is now marred by a tragic event that cost him a partner. His return to the force comes with an endless source of bitterness and very little motivation for anything. Unable to dismiss him but unwilling to put up with his the remnants of his trauma his superior promotes him to the head of Department Q; a one man team whose purpose is to review cold case files that have long been forgotten. He is soon joined by Assad, a rather cheerful man who has hidden secrets and qualities of his own. The first cold case file that gains their attention is the disappearance of Merete Lynggaard. A politically prominent individual, Merete led an unblemished life with no known public enemies and with even fewer personal relationships, due to her life revolving around the care of her brother Uffe who is mentally damaged from a horrific car accident during their youth. Merete’s sudden disappearance a few years ago left very few leads but Mørck’s intuition will breathe life back into the search for Merete with startling results.

Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is by far one of my favorite books and I have reread it at least three times. Though The Keeper of Lost Causes may not have a Lisbeth Salander Adler-Olsen’s characters are just as multi-layered and complex, and the mystery contains the same addictive sense of suspense. The back and forth narrative between Mørck and Merete keeps the reader engaged, watching both threads of the story developing and gradually merging together. There’s no denying that Mørck is a mess. Living with his ex’s son and a renter who also acts as the housekeeper, an unstoppable desire for the police department’s psychologist and the guilt that plagues him about the partner he failed to save and the other who now lies paralyzed in a hospital bed, Mørck is as multifarious a character any reader could hope for. And there are many more characters that are just as multifaceted.

The Nordic crime writers have certainly carved out a niche for themselves in the mystery genre and Adler-Olsen can easily claim one of the top spots. The detective work that takes place within the novel is fascinating and Adler-Olsen’s writing adds an additional level of finesse to a story that already holds its weight on its own. As much as you can see where the story is going Alder-Olsen keeps you guessing right to the very end on the finer details. There are several stories going on but in the end they all combine to give the reader a thrilling read that keeps you flipping the pages eagerly until the final page.

I’ll agree with the subway poster: if you’re suffering from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo withdrawal get your hands on Jussi Adler-Olsen’s The Keeper of Lost Causes. You won’t be able to put it down, the writing and story will grip you the same way Larsson’s did. Thankfully when you do finish it there are two more in the series waiting for you, The Absent One and A Conspiracy of Faith, along with the release of The Purity of Vengeance in December, 2013. Enjoy!

Devon – a1000booklife

Other books by Jussi Adler-Olsen: The Absent One (2013) and A Conspiracy of Faith (2013)

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