Book Review: THE ABSENT ONE by Jussi Adler-Olsen

This appeared last week in Shelf Awareness for Readers, and is reprinted here with permission.

In this second installment in the Department Q series (after last year’s excellent The Keeper of Lost Causes), Jussi Adler-Olsen wastes no time in hurling readers right into the action, with a suspenseful opening that portends a very bad outcome. Then the story cuts to Carl Mørck, the Danish detective whose laziness belies a sharp mind, receiving the file on a twenty-year-old double homicide that by all appearances is solved, with the confessed murderer in prison. It soon becomes apparent that the murders involved several other players still at large, including a homeless woman named Kimmie who’s elusive and dangerous. Mørck and his trusty assistant Assad decide to reinvestigate, and come face to face with people who would kill again to keep their secrets safe.

The story is structured so that readers know who the bad guys are early on. The draw is in rooting for Mørck and Assad to figure things out, and make the smug sociopaths pay for their crimes, perhaps in violent, painful ways. Adler-Olsen does make one of the gang surprisingly sympathetic, and it’s one of the author’s strengths—showing the humanity in even the vilest of people.

He’s also adept at injecting humor into a grim tale, like Mørck’s observation that another character’s “boozy breath was day-old, but of quality origin.” Assad continues to be a delightful sidekick who keeps revealing hints of a more sinister side. Each Department Q book is self-contained, but Adler-Olsen knows how to tease with serial details that will keep readers showing up for more.

Nerd verdict: Make Absent present on your reading list

Buy it now from Amazon| Buy from an indie bookstore

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    jenn aka the picky girl
    August 27, 2012 at 7:49 am

    I *just* started listening to this last night when I walked Maddie. Some audiobooks are a bit difficult to get into, but this one wasn’t at all. I never did read The Keeper of Lost Causes, but so far I think I’ll be fine with this one on its own. Glad it’s a good one.

    • Reply
      Lauren
      August 27, 2012 at 9:21 am

      Keeper was on sale for $2.99 at Amazon yesterday. Just a little FYI re one of my favorite reads of 2011. 🙂

      • Reply
        Sarah RH
        August 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm

        Awww! I missed it!!! =(

        • Reply
          Lauren
          August 27, 2012 at 2:59 pm

          They took it down already? That’s nuts.

          • Reply
            Sarah RH
            August 28, 2012 at 7:22 am

            Yup. I thought they usually kept them up a couple days. Oh well…

  • Reply
    Jann
    August 27, 2012 at 8:29 am

    You know how shallow I am? I can’t get into any of the Scandanavian books because books with names I can’t pronounce annoy me. Perhaps I should try listening to it since it does sound intriguing.

  • Reply
    le0pard13
    August 27, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I always appreciate your book reviews, Elyse. As well, doing my due diligence, you’ve been nominated by me for a Liebster Award.

  • Reply
    Julie
    October 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    I loved this book and am excited for the next book which will be released early in 2013! This is a series that continues to amaze me.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      October 21, 2012 at 11:25 pm

      Hooray! Hope it’s early next year. Do you know what it’s called?

      • Reply
        Farin
        October 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm

        It’s called A Conspiracy of Faith.

        (because I’m keeping as close a watch on it as you are–loooove!)

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