The first in a series by Danish author Adler-Olsen, the The Keeper of Lost Causes introduces us to Detective Carl Mørck, assigned to head up a newly created Department Q. Carl is back at work, recovering from a gunshot wound and career-induced apathy. He used to be an excellent detective, but being bombarded with violence and cruelty has made him apathetic and dulled his responses. Thus Detective Mørck blames himself for the shooting that took one partner’s life and ruined another’s. Carl and his eager new assistant, Assad, begin work on a case of a missing politician believed to have drowned while taking a ferry five years prior. The question needing solving is whether Merete Lynggaard fell overboard accidentally or on purpose to take her own life, or was pushed. The deeper he digs, the more Carl finds flaws and leads not followed in the original investigation. Unbeknownst to Carl, Merete is not dead yet, and his investigation pits him against her kidnapper, who controls the clock on Merete’s life.
Interesting and suspenseful, The Keeper of Lost Causes is not as dark as Stieg Larsson, which it is often compared to. While there is violence and cruelty, it is neither excessive nor vulgar. I found the story gripping enough to make it a fairly fast read.