In 2002, Merete Lynggaard, a prominent Danish politician, went missing on a car ferry from Denmark to Germany. She left behind her younger brother, Uffie, who had not spoken for 15 years, since an automobile accident they were involved in took their parents’ lives. Merete hasn’t been heard from since and it is presumed she went overboard and drowned.
In 2007, unpopular Police Detective Carl Morck was involved in a shooting in which one of his partners died and the other is in critical condition, probably paralyzed for life. Upon his return from medical leave, his boss Marcus Jacobsen couldn’t figure out what to do with him. Luckily, Parliament granted the police department an appropriation to create a department to re-examine cold cases, Department Q. Locate it in the basement which would minimize the risk of Morck interacting with other policemen and it would be a perfect place for Morck who can be abrasive at times.
Forced to chose a case to work on, Morck and his Syrian assistant Hafez al-Assad, unintentionally pick the Lynggaard disappearance–high profile and never solved. Morck initially shows no interest in the case but as Assad uncovers interesting information, Morck begins a real investigation.
Of course the officer who handled the initial call was the bumbling Bak. And, of course, Morck and Assad find many avenues of inquiry never pursued during the initial investigation.
Adler-Olsen has created a good detective in Morck and his comical sidekick Assad. Morck is the Danish version of the chain smoking brooding cop we’ve all come to know and love in American crime fiction. He’s estranged from his wife who lives in a cottage next door. His stepson lives upstairs and sponges off Morck and he’s got a finicky tenant who lives in the basement.
The Keeper of Lost Causes has an interesting premise which I won’t tell you about since it will spoil the fun. Adler-Olsen does go back and forth between 2002 and 2007 but that merely enhances the plot. Readers will be guessing until almost the end about ‘who done it’.
Although I enjoyed The Keeper of Lost Causes and would read the next book in this 5 book series, I did find it a slower read than most mysteries, even the other Nordic translations I’ve read. Possibly a little tighter editing might have helped, but all in all, it’s a good series.