Jussi Adler-Olsen is Denmark's premier crime writer. His books routinely top the best-seller lists in northern Europe, and he's won just about every Nordic crime-writing award, including the prestigious Glass Key Award - also won by Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson, and Jo Nesbo. Now, we're thrilled to introduce him to America.
The Keeper of Lost Causes, the first installment of Adler- Olsen's Department Q series, features the deeply flawed chief detective Carl MØrck, who used to be a good homicide detective-one of Copenhagen's best. Then a bullet almost took his life. Two of his colleagues weren't so lucky, and Carl, who didn't draw his weapon, blames himself.
So a promotion is the last thing Carl expects. But it all becomes clear when he sees his new office in the basement. Carl's been selected to run Department Q, a new special investigations division that turns out to be a department of one. With a stack of Copenhagen's coldest cases to keep him company, Carl's been put out to pasture. So he's as surprised as anyone when a case actually captures his interest. A missing politician vanished without a trace five years earlier. The world assumes she's dead. His colleagues snicker about the time he's wasting. But Carl may have the last laugh, and redeem himself in the process. Because she isn't dead....yet.
©2011 Jussi Adler-Olsen (P)2011 Penguin
The best part about this book for me was the look into Danish society -- how its parliament, criminal justice, mental health service, and economic systems work, how its mass media function, how its families have problems just as ours do, and how traditional White Danes are experiencing workplace life as more People of Color with different religions move in from the southern latitudes. I loved hearing the Scandinavian accents of the narrator in all his voices. The protagonist and his sidekick were great characters. Those are the same reasons I am a fan of MHZ's International Mystery series on TV. I am hooked on this genre and can't resist reading it -- even when there are negative aspects to a particular story.
That was the case with this book. The torture performed on the victim in this book was so gruesome, detailed, and prolonged that I had to avoid listening to it before bed or I would experience really unpleasant thoughts. It was as if the author was trying to exceed the shock value of all previous works. That did not raise its value in my mind. On TV, I turn torture off. Unfortunately this book roped me into listening to it all the way through. It's depressing to know that the best minds of our society, the ones who still think and read, are being marketed with such -- I don't know what to call it -- evil. What will happen to our society in the future? Where is the redeeming value of our literature? No wonder there are people in the Third World who hold us in such disreguard! I am beginning to feel very old.
This is a great story and I look forward to more translations of the author's work. That said, the Danish accent the narrator uses is so annoying and unnecessary that it almost ruined the book. I will definitely read more of Adler-Olsen's books, but it will be in print only if they continue with this narration in the audio format.
trying to see the world with my ears
I try to not repeat the content of other reviews; also I don???t usually review books that I haven???t completely finished. HOWEVER! The narration in this is so annoying, I feel I need to continue the refrain warning listeners away.
I've listened to this narrator in other books, mostly non fiction, and he was quite competent; so whoever was responsible for the direction of the audiobook also made questionable calls about how the characters were to be delivered in those atrocious and distracting accents.
I think? this is a good mystery -- The three stars for the story is arbritary: I can't concentrate on the story enough to decide if I would download a version by another narrator or try a print copy. Usually I can grow accustomed to odd narration styles and eventually get into a novel -- but so far am unable to with this one---not worth the annoyance!
Every single time the narrator, Eric Davies, speaks in a character's voice, he attempts a Danish accent. And every single one is horrible, and pulls you right out of the experience. His third person narration is fine, clear and crisp and energetic and NOT ACCENTED. But his attempts at Danish accents all have a bizarre hint of Southern America drawls. Very, very disappointing. Strongly recommend reading this one with your eyes, not your ears.
This is clearly a copy of Stieg Larssen's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series - too man similarities to list however I felt the story was compelling enough to keep listening, especially the last 30 minutes. The narrator speaks quite slowly and I enjoyed the book at 2x the speed on my iPod. I look forward to the next chapter in this trilogy.
A better alternative to Jo Nesbo
"Lost Causes" is about a detective who is placed as head of the newly minted "Dept. Q" - if only to keep him, and his brash manners, away from everyone else. The Force won't fire him, however, because of his exemplary past...and he knows it.
So, he is instead relegated to a tiny basement office in a such a way that one cannot help feeling a humorous empathy with the aging detective. Cold-case files, and Dead-ends are his company... that, and a Middle-eastern man with fire and talent, and umm, a Transylvanian accent (sorry, couldn't help it).
Detective Carl Morck's past is anything but funny, and serves to bring gravity to the story.
The mystery to be solved leads to a harrowing conclusion, with real-life consequences. The ending is not as happy as most 'western' endings, but not as dark as some Scandinavian books. All-in-all Olsen did an admirable job of eliminating gratuitous and tasteless filth, and what was included was handled in such a way as to not glorify it needlessly.
Det. Morck was a likable protagonist. The Antagonist, when he was discovered, was despicable in equal measure. It was a good versus evil in the end, which can add so much to a mystery. It wasn't the greatest book I've ever read in this genre, but it was enjoyable, and I will likely read another Olsen novel.
Bottom Line: recommended to fans of the genre.
I've not finished this book. That said, the narration is irritating. I don't need characters to speak in accents. I really don't need, or want, Danish characters to sound like Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's from somewhere else. I loved book 3, Conspiracy of Faith. Will take more than faith to get through this one.
The translator overdoes the use of English idioms, which I found distracting. The narrator would do better to use his natural voice than attempt Danish accents.
The plot unfolds in an engaging way, shifting seamlessly between its present and five years earlier.
I looked up some information about Denmark.
It sounded like a terrible Arnold Schwartznegger (sp?) imitation. I couldn't even stand to listen.
The story is gripping and enjoyable, and not predictable nor totally unbelievable. However, the narration significantly detracted from my enjoyment of this book. The narrator portrayed each character as if they were speaking in English with a heavy Dutch or other accent. Thus, each character speaks very slowly and deliberately. This was a continual distraction.
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