Last year Danish crime fiction writer Jussi Adler-Olsen brought his Department Q series to English speaking readers in The Keeper of Lost Causes. That book introduced us to homicide detective Carl Morck, brusque and sarcastic, who was "promoted" to run a cold case division known as Department Q in the basement of Copenhagen police headquarters. Although Morck is the only detective in the division, he is given an administrative assistant, Assad, who is as mysterious as he is astute. Together they delve into a high profile case that had remained unsolved for years. The Keeper of Lost Causes was an immensely satisfying thriller which left me looking forward to Adler-Olson's next installment.
The Absent One again finds the Department Q members on the hunt for clues in a series of unsolved brutal murders. Although Morck and Assad are still interesting as they further define their burgeoning friendship, most of the "bad guys" are exceptionally one dimensional, even for psychopaths, which left me feeling vaguely disappointed with this quick page turner.
In 2010, however, Adler-Olsen won the Glass Key award, given annually to a Scandinavian crime writer, for his third installment of the Department Q series. With that award, he joined Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo in the upper echelons of Nordic crime writing. With that endorsement, I will look forward to the next Department Q English translation even though The Absent One did not live up to my expectations.