The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Following an incredible month travelling around the United States, I embarked on the long journey home. I had already finished the few books I had taken with me and so I decided to pop into the airport and purchase something new to get stuck into on the flight back to London. Having browsed for a while I settled on New York Times Bestseller The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen.

The first in a series The Keeper of Lost Causes follows the story of Carl Morck, a homicide detective in Copenhagen. Morck, who is recovering from a major incident which left one of his team dead and another paralysed, is issued with the task of heading up a new police department: Department Q. The role of this new department is to revisit old cases that were left unsolved in the hope of unearthing new evidence. The novel follows Morck as he tackles the case of Merete Lynggaard, a former politician, who mysteriously went missing 5 years previously.

Adler-Olsen’s ambitious narrative switches between Morcks present day first person narration and that of Merete Lynggaards from the time she went missing. This element of the book adds an interesting twist on the ordinary crime novel. The conclusion of the novel then is reached simultaneously by both narrators in one climatic scene which leaves the reader reeling at the discovery.

Morck himself is a particularly interesting character to follow. His arrogance and general attitude makes others in the office despise him and his appointment to Department Q is essentially a move to get Morck out of the homicide office. And yet there is a humour to the narrator which makes him ultimately completely likeable.

Adler-Olsen also introduces some incredibly interesting secondary characters in the novel, highlighting some acute social subjects. Lynggaard’s mentally disabled brother Uffe provides a casing point for the research needed to improve the treatment of people with brain injuries, while Morck’s assistant Assad, an asylum seeker from Syria, seems to be hiding a dark past.

What you get with The Keeper of Lost Causes is a completely fresh approach to the crime genre, and a book which scintillates its readers on every level, justifying entirely its many awards and accolades. Already an International Bestseller, it is actually difficult to find much wrong with this novel.