Saturday, 15 October 2016

Bill's Book Recommendations - The Keeper of Lost Causes

I'm not totally sure how I want to proceed with this thread. I see it as an introduction to some of my favourite books, or more specifically, books I've given a 5 out of 5 rating. I have already provided some Top Ten Lists in previous BLog entries and if you're interested in those, you can scroll down the page and on the right side (at least from my view of the BLog) until you hit a grouping called labels. That has all sorts of Favourite(s) and Top Ten Lists. Now, I'm sure I'll probably cover some books or authors that I've already Blogged about previously in this Topic, but I'll try not to be too repetitive. Anyway, with that preamble, let's start with my first recommendation. The reason I picked this book is that in my Goodread's 'Read' bookshelf, this is my first 5 - star rated book. Simple, eh?

I was on a bit of a Scandinavian mystery writer kick when I saw this book, The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen. I'm pretty sure that the first thing that caught my notice was the colour of the book jacket as I do like those autumn colours. (Ask the missus, she'll verify that.) Then I read the jacket and the synopsis sounded very interesting. This is the synopsis.

"Carl Morck 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 may have the last laugh, because one file keeps nagging at him: a liberal politician vanished five years earlier and is presumed dead. But she isn't dead...yet."

The synopsis intrigued me but I readily admit that I didn't buy it right away. I think I was somewhat suffering from Scandinavian mystery overload. Some of the stories were great, some not so much.

Finally, in 2013, during one of our trips to Nanaimo, while the missus was at HomeSense, I wandered across the highway to Chapters and decided to purchase a copy. (Chapters was having one of its sales so that made it even more worthwhile.)

I bought it in January and waited until 2014 to take it off my shelves and give it a try. Of course, it was one of those books that you just can't put down. I had it read in just a few days and wondered why I had waited so long to finally try it. This was my review.

"What a surprisingly excellent mystery and story! I've had it on my bookshelf for awhile and am so glad that I finally pulled it down to read. The mystery, the cold case involving the disappearance of Merete, was different from any I've read before. The main characters, Carl Morck, head of new Division Q and his assistant, Assad, were so well crafted.

Carl is a police detective just coming back to work after he and his two partners were ambushed, one killed, one a cripple still in hospital and Carl, recovered, now trying to get back to work. His boss assigns him to a newly created unit as its chief, partly to keep him away from the other detectives. Carl avoids work until his new assistant, Assad brings him the cold case involving Merete, who became missing, presumed dead, five years ago on a ferry to Germany.

The story weaves between Carl and Assad, working their way through the old case and Merete, working from the past, 5 years before, until the present as she tries to adjust and sort out where she is and why she was abducted in the first place.

Carl is an interesting character; his personal life also slowly being developed and his investigating talents becoming more visible. All in all, it was an excellent story, witty, but also with a great deal of tension as the story winds up to its climax. Loved it and am looking forward to reading more Department Q mysteries."

Carl and Assad were both excellent. Carl really doesn't want to work and loves making waves for his boss. Realising that he has a pot of money for his new department, he takes advantage of it to fix up his office in the basement. Assad just sort of shows up, but he is the one who pushes Carl into the investigation and gets Carl interested in the case. There are many interesting characters and story lines. Carl's roomies add to the quirkiness of the story. It has a wonderful mix of tension and humour. The book was such a nice surprise.

Carl Valdemar Jussi Henry Adler-Olsen is a Danish writer. He made his debut in non-fiction in 1984 and as a fiction writer in 1997. The first book in the Department Q series, The Keeper of Lost Causes came out in Denmark in 2007, with the first English translation in 2011. (I've had some issues with translations of other author's works, but have been very pleased with the Department Q translations so far.)

The series has proven very popular for Olsen. Since the first, there have been 5 new books written and translated. The series consists of -

1. The Keeper of Lost Causes
2. The Absent One
3. A Conspiracy of Faith
4. The Purity of Vengeance
5. The Marco Effect
6. The Hanging Girl

I've since read the second book, The Absent One, in 2015 and enjoyed it just as much. A new character has been introduced to spice up the Department Q team, an unwanted assistant by the name of Rose, who is wonderful.

If you are interested in trying out Scandinavian mystery fiction, you can't go wrong with The Keeper of Lost Causes. It's an excellent book and, as far as I've delved into it so far, an excellent series.

So, there you go, my first Book Recommendation. Next will be....... well, we'll see.

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