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The Keeper of Lost Causes

(Afdeling Q #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  65,125 ratings  ·  5,132 reviews
Carl Mørck used to be one of Copenhagen’s best homicide detectives. Then a hail of bullets destroyed the lives of two fellow cops, and Carl—who didn’t draw his weapon—blames himself. So a promotion is the last thing he expects. But Department Q is a department of one, and Carl’s got only a stack of Copenhagen’s coldest cases for company. His colleagues snicker, but Carl ma ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published August 23rd 2011 by Dutton Adult (first published September 12th 2007)
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George Depends on what you like. I detest torture narratives, but the one that's part of this includes a strong victim who made it possible for me to endure …moreDepends on what you like. I detest torture narratives, but the one that's part of this includes a strong victim who made it possible for me to endure it along with her. I liked the police procedural plot much better.(less)
David Smith I enjoyed it. The main character needs to be developed (this is the 1st of the series) but I want to get to know him and his secretary/assistant bette…moreI enjoyed it. The main character needs to be developed (this is the 1st of the series) but I want to get to know him and his secretary/assistant better. The crime they're investigating is really horrific and it's frustrating because no one knows how bad it is; they're just investigating an old missing persons case. As an American, I shook my head in frustration as the cop approached one very dangerous situation unarmed, outnumbered, and without any real back-up, but I guess that's how they do it in Denmark. He's no Harry Hole or Wallander but I think he'll grow on me.(less)

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(B+) 78% | Good
Notes: Characters gush ad nauseam about the victim's beauty, I suppose, to make her victimization seem all the more tragic.
Jim Fonseca
Another Nordic noir! This is the first of a seven- book Danish series about Deputy Superintendent Carl Morck. It’s a police procedural.


Like all fictional detectives, Morck has his issues. He’s in the process of getting divorced although he still sees his wife and she likes to tell him about her young lovers. He’s blunt in the romance department, always hitting on the wrong woman, especially ones wearing a wedding ring. He’s also psychologically damaged from a recent incident where he feels respo
Imagine if the brooding detective Kurt Wallander from the Henning Mankell series accidentally wandered into the plot of a Stieg Larsson novel and you’d have a pretty good idea of what this book is like. Unfortunately, we don’t get a new Salander, but we do get a pretty interesting and flawed character in Carl Morck.

Morck is a Danish police detective who survived being shot in the head during an attack that left another detective dead and one paralyzed. While Morck has returned to duty, he’s so
Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nordic-noir
”She’d been lying on the floor thinking about books. That was something she often did in order not to think about the life she might have had if only she’d made different choices. When she thought about books, she could move into a whole different world. Just remembering the feeling of the dry surface and inexplicable roughness of the paper could ignite a blaze of yearning inside of her. The scent of evaporated cellulose and printer’s ink. Thousands of times now she’d sent her thoughts into her ...more
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Book one in a series set in Denmark featuring Detective Inspector Carl Morck, a man who believes he has exhausted his interest in his job and just wants to sit out the remaining years to his retirement. A series of events puts him in charge of a newly established cold case department, he gets an extremely interesting assistant, he finds a case which does interest him and things go from there.

I enjoyed it enormously! I found Carl's attitude amusing and his sarcastic comments made me laugh out lou
Sherry Roberts
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
So Stieg Larson has drawn me into the world of Scandinavian sleuths. Jussi Adler-Olsen has created a wonderfully weird detective in Carl Morck, who is so damaged mentally that the Copenhagen police department has deep-sixed him in the one-man investigative unit, Department Q. His job is to thaw out cold cases. And he does it brilliantly with the help of a fascinating sidekick, Assad, a Syrian immigrant with a suitcase of mysterious skills. Together they find out what ever happened to a popular p ...more
Jul 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Everything can change in an instant.

This seems to be the overwhelming message left by author Jussi Adler-Olsen in his 2007 novel The Keeper of Lost Causes (published in English in 2011 with a translation from Danish by Lisa Hartford).

Everything changed for detective Carl Morck in an instant when he and two colleagues were shot during an investigation. One of his fellow police officers was killed and the other was injured for life in a horrific and traumatic event that has scarred Morck forever a
Feb 23, 2013 marked it as books-i-didn-t-finish
Hey look! Another gruff male detective with a "crazy" ex. I wonder if he's experienced some prior trauma in the line of duty. Oh, he has. I wonder if he's an outcast in his department? Oh, he is. I wonder if he flouts protocol and pushes boundaries? Oh, he does. I wonder if all the female characters are repeatedly defined by their physical appearance or presumed sexuality. Oh, they are. Fantastic! Now I've got something I can recommend to readers who are interested in cliches, sexism and misogyn ...more
Jan 19, 2013 rated it really liked it

Danish detective Carl Morck is physically and psychologically damaged after an attempted arrest resulted in the death of one of his partners and the paralysis of another.

The homicide squad doesn't want to work with the difficult detective so he's 'promoted' to head of Department Q, which is tasked with looking into cold cases from all over Denmark. Department Q is given a bare bones space in the cluttered basement and Carl is given one employee - Syrian immigrant Assad - who's officially a sort
Aug 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Who is he really?

What’s in the Scandinavian Water? There are so many good mysteries appearing by Scandinavian writers recently. Why are they just now being translated into English? I don’t think I’ve run into a better detective duo than Carl, a policeman of many years experience, and his sidekick Assad, who he supposedly hired to clean the office. Assad says he’s an emigrant from Syria where he used to be a taxi driver but he seems to have skills that not many cabbies could claim. He’s able to g
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
I'm really sorry, it just was not that good. People calling this the next "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" are wrong in a myriad of ways.

First, the writing is just not good. The dialogue is stilted at best and, at times, completely ridiculous. I actually laughed at some of the things the characters said. And they were not supposed to be funny. I don't know how much of this is attributable to the translation, but it needs work. A lot of it.

Second, the protagonist is an asshole. And not a likeable as
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I must confess that I'm slowly becoming addicted to this series. After reading The Hanging Girl with thirsty passion, I knew that I needed to hurry back to the library and take out another Jussi Adler-Olsen. "The Keeper of the Lost Causes" is the book that introduces readers to Carl Morck and his assistant Assad.

After dealing with a vicious attack on his team that left one team member dead and the other paralyzed, Carl is returning to the homicide department. However, many of his colleagues an
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just what a mystery lover needs! Another excellent series discovered. I've heard tell of the Department Q series for some time but never got around to the books. Then my niece happened to give me a copy of the first in the series and I took advantage of a recuperation period post shoulder surgery for a dive into this new world. And it was well worth it.

Carl Mørck is the head of this new department, a bit of a grudging head, since it comes on the heels of a disastrous last homicide case in which
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Nordic thrillers/mysteries
This longish Nordic thriller/mystery delivers a very satisfying read, for the most part. I sometimes wondered if the translation to English added more words. The lead character is the world-weary but brilliant detective Carl Morck who gets relegated to a basement office (Department Q) where he's given one offbeat assistant, Assad. The funny and personable interactions between Carl and Assad are the most interesting parts of the cop narrative. The main plot of the top Danish government official's ...more
Kylie H
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have had this book forever, but for some reason was never drawn to pick it up and read it. In order to complete a reading challenge, I did finally get to it and WOW!
This is a Danish book (Scandinavian noir) translated into English. Carl Mørck is a police officer that is jaded due to an incident that killed one of his team and permanently disabled another. He feels responsible and hates everyone around him. Having become a thorn in the side of his fellow officers an opportunity arises to move h
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was my April Book Pal's choice and it was a good one! I really enjoyed this book! Carl and Assad are a great pair. Assad is a character I want to know more about. I liked that part of the story was told from Merete's point of view. This was my first book by Jussi Adler-Olsen and I'm looking forward to more.
aPriL does feral sometimes
When you start the first page of ‘The Keeper of Lost Causes’, start the first bag of microwave popcorn to cook. By the time the second bag of popcorn is ready to eat, this book is finally ready to entertain. It starts slow.

Carl Morck is a good detective, but he no longer has people skills currently, in 2007, not that that was his personal strength in the first place. Instead, he possesses most an intuitive ability combined with a dogged methodology in the art of detecting, honed by 25 years on t
May 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller, mystery
This one was an unexpectedly fabulous read. I went into it thinking it'd be just one more moody, scandinavian mystery. And it was to some extent. But it was also a suspenseful, sometimes dryly funny effort. And Carl Morck as protagonist was highly appealing.

Carl is a detective with the Copenhagen police. He's returned to work after a shooting that left his partner paralyzed and another colleague dead. Where once he was a hard-charging investigator, now he is having a hard time caring about anyth
Lewis Weinstein
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An excellent detective story, but much more. Fascinating characters, far from perfect, far from fully disclosed even by book's end. A somewhat improbable plot, but still imaginable, disclosed in bits and pieces that created the needed tension. Overall, a fine read and incentive to read more by this author.
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Carl Morck is a Danish policeman who got shot in the line of Duty, one of his colleagues died and the other one lies parlysed in a hospital. Carl suffers from PTSS he does not yet know this. His married life is a mess and he lives together with a lodger and his stepson. When he returns to his job he is not wanted very much and as luck happens politics are into creating a cold case department and there is some serious money involved. What easier that promoting Morck and make him head of this depa ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ivonne by: Magda Cawthorne
Except for the novels of Norwegian Karin Fossum, I hadn’t read any of the Scandinavian crime fiction that’s all the rage. Not Jo Nesbø, not Henning Mankell, not Maj Sjöwalland Per Wahlöö, not even Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

OK, so I live in a cave.

For that reason, I really can’t compare Jussi Adler-Olsen’s The Keeper of Lost Causes to other Scandinavian crime novels. Are they all this dark? Are their protagonists as curmudgeonly as Adler-Olsen’s Carl Mørck, a police deputy
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Jussi Adler-Olsen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1950. Known for his 3 stand-alones (The alphabet House, The Company Basher, and Washington Decree and the famous Department Q novels his popularity in Denmark has finally migrated over to the U.S.

All Department Q novels are set in Denmark and reveal the writings of an author intensely interested in criticizing politics while simultaenously being agnostic to parties in general. Not that this is any great revelation as for the most part politi
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery/thiller lovers
I really enjoyed this one! Loved Carl Morck and his right-hand man, Assad. Not much was revealed about Assad, hopefully will learn more in future books. I had quite a few laugh out loud moments with these two characters. This is a very gripping story about the disappearance (five years prior) of a very popular woman in Demark politics. The case was never solved. Carl Morck is the police officer assigned to head the new Department Q, which looks into cold cases. This is their first case. Looking ...more
Roderick Hart
Apr 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a crime novel so in this review I have tried not to spoil things for anyone who goes on to read it. It was written in Danish and translated by Tiina Nunally. The translation reads very well. It seems from the inside cover that it may be the first of three, much like the Millenium series, with the second and third volumes due to appear in 2012 and 2013.

Our ‘hero’ is Carl Mørck, a detective who appears to be burned out. Given that one of his colleagues was killed and another left paralysed

Re-visit autumn 2018: Description: Carl Morck, a troubled detective, is assigned to the newly created 'Department Q', a basement-bound job filing cold cases. He is allocated an assistant, Assad, and between them they review the case files to determine which ones can be closed. Always one to go against orders, Morck throws them headlong into the mystery of a politician's disappearance during a ferry crossing five years earlier.
Based on the first of Jussi Adler-Olsen's 'Department Q' series of nov
The Keeper of Lost Causes is the first in a new series by Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen. It belongs to a genre that I was calling Scandinavian thrillers but have recently heard described as "Nordic Noir." I can't imagine a more perfect label for this work (and works by other favorite authors of mine such as Jo Nesboe, Karin Fossum, Arnaldur Indriðason, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, and Henning Mankell).

Carl Mork is a detective who has been on leave since he and his partners were attacked while i
Nicola Mansfield
eason for Reading: The plot just screamed "read me!" and I'm a fan of Scandi Crime.

Outstanding! The first chapter had me hooked on the case and the second chapter had me fascinated with the main character, Copenhagen detective Carl Morck. Usually I'm into the serial killer type of crimes but this case involves a kidnapping/missing persons case that is incredibly taut and gripping. Carl Morck has just come back to work after being in a shoot-out where he was injured and each of his two partners w
Where have crime novels been all of my life? Not my usual genre for sure.

But now I have found Jussi Adler-Olsen and his compelling way of writing into his novels characters with which I can empathize.

This is my first by this author, one of Denmark's finest and most lauded crime novelists. It will not be my last.

I did listen to this novel beautifully narrated by Erik Davies of the soft and soothing voice.

4.25 stars.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A police procedural where the suspense ratchets up slowly but surely to an almost unbearable peak. Starring an irascible detective who you want to hug and slap in turn and his lovable sidekick.

This was an interesting story by an incredibly talented author.

A huge thanks to my friend J for the rec.
May 29, 2013 rated it liked it
3stars....a good enough danish detective debut....interesting characters and mystery BUT weighed down by predictability and waaaaaay too many cliches...I will try the second in the series at some point.
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Jussi Adler-Olsen is a Danish author who began to write novels in the 1990s after a comprehensive career as publisher, editor, film composer for the Valhalla cartoon and as a bookseller.

He made his debut with the thriller “Alfabethuset” (1997), which reached bestseller status both in Denmark and internationally just like his subsequent novels “And She Thanked the Gods” (prev. “The Company Basher”)

Other books in the series

Afdeling Q (8 books)
  • The Absent One (Department Q, #2)
  • Flaskepost fra P (Afdeling Q, #3)
  • Journal 64 (Afdeling Q, #4)
  • Marco Effekten (Afdeling Q, #5)
  • The Hanging Girl (Department Q, #6)
  • The Scarred Woman (Department Q, #7)
  • Victim 2117 (Department Q, #8)

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