Monday, March 27, 2017

Book Review: The Keeper of Lost Causes

The Keeper of Lost Causes
Jussi Adler-Olsen

It's frequently reported that the Scandinavian countries are the happiest in the world. You couldn't prove it by their burgeoning crime-fiction scene, though. The standard Scandinavian mystery has a morose lead character with some kind of dark past and/or present, a crime with bleak psychological overtones, a steady drumbeat of depressive prose, and a downbeat conclusion.

The Keeper of Lost Causes delivers on all these fronts. It's a police procedural rather than a whodunit or a thriller, so there's not much of a puzzle. As an experienced mystery reader, I spotted what was going on at page 123; I was confirmed in my analysis--which was not a very startling one--on page 300. 

In between, the book relies on pacing. This isn't a bad strategy. There are some good scenes. Plot developments happen with some regularity. It's interesting to watch the main character following the thread from plot point to plot point. I could have done with less of his pointless and feckless personal life, personally; his assistant is a more interesting and appealing character than he is.

In summary: The Keeper of Lost Causes was OK. It would be a good book for an airplane ride, or for anyone who likes the standard Nordic mystery, or for genre readers who aren't looking for anything new or challenging. I liked it enough to finish it in a few sittings. I didn't like it enough to look for any other books in the series.


  1. I got about thirty pages into that book and quit. I almost always finish books regardless, but the lead character was such a miserable bastard I gave up.

    1. This is a perfectly reasonable reaction. I didn't dislike him enough to quit, but I suspect at least one person to whom I'm married (and who bought the book!) might. Be glad you didn't get to his flaccid response to his stepson and his wife.