Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Keeper of Lost Causes

I read the Stieg Larsson books as I felt like I had to after all the hype. They were ok. Some parts were disturbing but I guess that's a testament to how well written they were.

A couple of weeks ago my cousin in Denmark recommended this author. The back of the book puts Adler-Olsen puts in the Nordic Noir category with Stieg Larsson. I didn't realize that was actually a subgenre of thrillers but I guess it is.

I figured if a Danish author was doing well internationally it was worth checking out. I read the book in English which in hindsight I shouldn't have. There were a few things that just didn't translate right. I knew what the author meant but a few subtle things definitely got lost in the translation. I'm not saying I could have done a better job, but if I read another book by him I should read it in Danish.

The book alternates between Carl Mørck and Merete Lynggard. Carl is a police detective who recently shot in the line of duty - his partner was seriously injured, another was killed and while Carl physically recovered, the department is not so sure of his mental state. He refuses to take a leave of absence so the powers that be relegate him to a basement office to handle cold cases from around the country. He knows they are trying to force him out, but in his passive aggressive way refuses to go. After twiddling his thumbs for a while, he decides to investigate the disappearance of a member of Parliament five years before - Merete Lynggard. Merete was heading down to Berlin with her brother and disappeared on the ferry. After a brief investigation it was assumed that she had fallen overboard and the case was dropped.

The truth is much worse. Merete has been captured and wakes up in a small dark room. She is given a bucket of food once a day but that's it. She has no idea who has captured her or why. She does her best to keep herself from losing her mind and strength as she has no idea how long she will be held. Some of the parts of her story are pretty disturbing.

The book goes back and forth between Carl trying to solve the case and flashbacks to the ordeal that Merete's story. Little by little we learn more about who has captured her and why.

Like Stieg Larsson it is well written which is what makes the story so disturbing. Carl is an abrasive character and not really one you sympathize with. He has a Syrian assistant, Assad, who's story I am interested in knowing more about.  Not sure that I would recommend this book unless you're a big fan of this genre.

We're heading to Denmark this summer so I may pick up the next one then.  In the meantime, I think it's time to get back to more uplifting reading.

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