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The Absent One (Department Q Series #2)

The Absent One (Department Q Series #2)

4.1 49
by Jussi Adler-Olsen, K. E. Semmel (Translator)

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New York Times bestseller Jussi Adler-Olsen returns with the second book in his electrifying Department Q series.

In The Keeper of Lost Causes, Jussi Adler-Olsen introduced Detective Carl Mørck, a deeply flawed, brilliant detective newly assigned to run Department Q, the home of Copenhagen’s coldest cases. The result wasn’t


New York Times bestseller Jussi Adler-Olsen returns with the second book in his electrifying Department Q series.

In The Keeper of Lost Causes, Jussi Adler-Olsen introduced Detective Carl Mørck, a deeply flawed, brilliant detective newly assigned to run Department Q, the home of Copenhagen’s coldest cases. The result wasn’t what Mørck—or readers—expected, but by the opening of Adler-Olsen’s shocking, fast-paced follow-up, Mørck is satisfied with the notion of picking up long-cold leads. So he’s naturally intrigued when a closed case lands on his desk: A brother and sister were brutally murdered two decades earlier, and one of the suspects—part of a group of privileged boarding-school students—confessed and was convicted.

But once Mørck reopens the files, it becomes clear that all is not what it seems. Looking into the supposedly solved case leads him to Kimmie, a woman living on the streets, stealing to survive. Kimmie has mastered evading the police, but now they aren’t the only ones looking for her. Because Kimmie has secrets that certain influential individuals would kill to keep buried . . . as well as one of her own that could turn everything on its head.

Every bit as pulse-pounding as the book that launched the series, The Absent One delivers further proof that Jussi Adler-Olsen is one of the world's premier thriller writers.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Adler-Olsen, Denmark’s leading crime fiction author, outdoes his outstanding debut, Keeper of Lost Causes, with his second Department Q novel. No one knows how prickly Copenhagen Deputy Det. Supt. Carl Morck, the head of Department Q, which handles cold cases, received the file about the 1987 murder of an 18-year-old brother and a 17-year-old sister in a summer cottage. At the time suspicion fell on six boarding-school friends, but the police could find no evidence. Nine years later, a member of that group, the only one who had been on scholarship, confessed and went to prison. Morck and his misfit assistants, Assad and Rose, discover that the blood lust of those same students, now wealthy leaders of society, has not abated. These men fear only one thing—a homeless woman who used to be part of their gang. An insightful look at ruthless people seduced by violence and hiding behind their wealth fuels the surprise-filled plot. Morck’s life is never simple, whether it involves office politics, stymied investigations, or guilt over his paralyzed partner. Agent: Sarah Hunt Cooke, international rights director at Penguin UK. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews
Copenhagen Deputy Detective Superintendent Carl Mørck returns from vacation to discover that his tiny cold case unit, Department Q, has been reshuffled, and a citizen's complaint has reopened a 20-year-old case on which all the relevant documents have disappeared. Ditlev Pram is a founder of private hospitals. Ulrik Dybbøl Jensen is a stock market analyst. Torsten Florin is a prominent designer. Before they achieved their success, however, they were fifth-form students together at Rødovre High School along with Kristian Wolf, Bjarne Thøgersen and Kirsten-Marie Lassen. These last three haven't done so well. Kristian died in an apparent hunting accident; Bjarne is doing time for killing Lisbet Jørgeneon and her brother Søren back in 1987; and Kimmie is living on the streets of Copenhagen. Now new evidence suggests that all six of them were responsible for the Jørgensens' deaths and for a whole lot more mayhem as well. The upshot of Carl's dogged investigation is to get himself suspended from the force. But aided and abetted by his loyal Syrian assistant, Hafez el-Assad, and his new secretary, Rose Knudsen, assigned to his unit after she failed her police driving test, he continues to build a case against his influential quarry, themselves desperate to track down Kimmie, whose voices have been telling her that it's time to get revenge on them for their mistreatment of her. The long, eventful, often tedious chase climaxes in a wild hunt guaranteed to satisfy the most bloodthirsty readers. As in Department Q's debut (The Keeper of Lost Causes, 2011), Adler-Olsen plots and writes with both eyes on Stieg You-Know-Who. The result is overscaled, lumpy, strenuously unnuanced and destined for the bestseller lists.
From the Publisher
Praise for The Absent One

“Adler-Olsen, Denmark’s leading crime fiction author, outdoes his outstanding debut, The Keeper of Lost Causes, with his second Department Q novel.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Adler-Olsen's humor and his portrayal of Kimmie's sad life make The Absent One stand out among today's flood of Nordic mysteries.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The Copenhagen-set sequel to The Keeper of Lost Causes is quirky and wry.”—The Sacramento Bee

“Adler-Olsen has created a wonderful addition to the detective fiction genre...Readers of detective fiction, international crime fiction, and suspense fiction will highly enjoy this thriller.”—Library Journal (starred review)

More Praise for Jussi Adler-Olsen's Department Q series

“If you like the dark humor, wisecracking, and layered betrayals of Raymond Chandler, then read Adler-Olsen’s Department Q series.”—Men's Journal

“A tense, pleasurable read.”—USA Today

“[A] sordid tale… inspired by actual events during a dark period of Danish history. Ah, but there is more, so much more in this frenzied thriller.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Adler-Olsen merges story lines...with ingenious aplomb, effortlessly mixing hilarities with horrors...This crime fiction tour de force could only have been devised by an author who can even turn stomach flu into a belly laugh.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“This series has enough twists to captivate contemporary mystery readers and enough substance and background to entertain readers with historical and literary tastes.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“When your series relies on cold cases, it’s not always easy to craft plots that have both historical interest and an air of urgency, but it’s something Adler-Olsen is very good at.”—Booklist

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Department Q Series , #2
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"The Keeper of Lost Causes is dark, atmospheric, and compelling. Those who loved The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo will devour this book."
— C.J. Box

Meet the Author

Jussi Adler-Olsen is Denmark's #1 crime writer and a New York Times bestseller. His books routinely top the bestseller lists in Europe, and he's won many prestigious Nordic crime-writing awards, including the Glass Key Award—also won by Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbø, Stieg Larsson, and Peter Høeg. He lives in Denmark.

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The Absent One 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
Peanut61 More than 1 year ago
Warning - intricate and twisting, allowing the reader to really participate in the discovery but it can be gruesome and quite violent at times! The characters are beautifully developed and multi-dimensional. The recurring characters are wonderful, providing an occasional laugh but don't let them fool you - they have hidden strengths! The secondary story lines offer rich insight into the minds and backgrounds of both Morck and Assad. I waited patiently for this title to be released and am now hoping for a third in this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like his first book, The Keeper of Lost Causes, it had me from the first page. I tore through this book. I love his characters, his wit and style. While there are probably not too many surprises, the journey to the results are fantastic!!! I did find out through his website that the next in the series will not be out for a whole year. Tragic!!! Definetly a fan!!!
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
When last we saw Carl Morck, he had successfully solved the five year disappearance of a member of the Danish Parliament. His success made the newest department of the Copenhagen Police instantly famous. In the three weeks that have passed since completing that case, Detective Inspector Morck has been on holiday. When he arrives back at his subterranean office to continue the work of Department Q, which is to solve cold cases, mysteriously (and the only actual mystery of this book) the case that appears predominately on his desk is 20 years old but there is a person in prison who has admitted to that crime. How did the file come to be on Inspector Morck’s desk? What would be the purpose in looking into a 20 year-0ld case that is already solved? These questions lead to the solution of the mystery of how the case came to his attention while it prepares the way for the remainder of the work to be filled with the suspense of following where the answers lead the folks of Department Q. When Insp. Morck, “Assistant Assistant Deputy Director” Assad and the new department secretary, Rose, begin to delve into it, it quickly becomes apparent that the case, while technically solved, is far from being successfully closed. Unlike Mr. Adler-Olsen’s first Department Q novel, Keeper of Lost Causes, the reader knows the crimes at the same time as does the hero, but she/he also knows who committed them well before Dept. Q. This book is less mystery than it is a novel of suspense. The characters are clearly drawn but are shallow and two dimensional; the “good guys” are all but wearing white hats, the criminals are the purest of evil. Given the propensity of the Nordic writers I have read not to have a tidy, clear, “happy,” endings, I was looking forward to seeing if the “evil” so readily evident in the course of the story would be completely thwarted by the novels end. The resolution was satisfactory and fitting, albeit very Nordic. At least two of the plot lines introduced in the first novel are revisited in this second installment with a layer added to one major line that elevated my interest delightfully. The descriptions of the crimes are often in dreadful detail, the language is somewhat raw and the locations are, suitably (as that is where the story and writer are located), Danish – Copenhagen to be precise – and were therefore alien and difficult to pronounce to this provincial reader. There are many humorous moments amid the tension, particularly in the interactions between Det. Morck, Assad (the department’s bafflingly talented, Middle Eastern newest detective) and Rose, who brings a new meaning to the concept of ADD. Overall, I was not as charmed with Mr. Adler-Olsen’s sophomore novel as was I of his first. As mentioned, the characters are “unfinished,” the villainy too melodramatic and many of the actions taken by the criminals, while plausible, rang hollow and seemed to be more political rant than formative to an otherwise well done storyline. I do look forward to the third visit with Department Q. There is romance afoot, chivalry renewed and more cases that appear dead until they are taken up by the Department amid the Basement Pipes.
Kbeck More than 1 year ago
Jussi Alder-olsen is in my top 5 mystery writers. Looking forward to the next A Conspiracy of Faith coming in June.
FiverStPaul More than 1 year ago
I have read two of Jussi Adler-Olsen's books - this one and "The Keeper of Lost Causes". Both are excellent and he is my new favorite writer of this genre. His books are not only well written but original and clever.
readsalways More than 1 year ago
This book really captured my attention. The characters are fascinating with the right mix of quirkiness and professionalism to get the job done. Although there aren't too many surprises, it was still hard to put down. It has elements of a cross between "Girl with a Dragon Tattoo" and "A Clockwork Orange" and yet is totally original.
Lectus More than 1 year ago
This is the second book by Jussi Adler-Olsen that I read. I guess I am now a fan :-) I liked this one almost as much as I liked The keeper of loss causes (by Adler-Olsen as well). Why almost? Well, I understand that not two books are alike but one of the things that made The keeper of loss causes a success was "assistant assistant detective" Assad and his peculiarity. Although Assad was also present in this novel, his interaction wasn't as strong or as much as the previous one. Minus one point there. The gang in The absent one reminded me of The Likeness by Tana French. The two novels or the gang are nothing alike but both books are about a knit close group of friends and...well, one just made me think of the other. In The absent one detective Carl Mørck is back, sober and picking up cold-dead leads. This time, he is after the case of a brother and a sister who were brutally murdered 20 years ago. Right, how would he find any clues after 20 years? That is what makes this book exciting! His search takes him to a group of privileged sadistic friends who's hobbies include hunting and killing animals. Then there is Kimmie, a woman living on the street who holds the key to solving the case. I liked the pace, the intrigue and the plot. Adler-Olsen is a master in his genre. The book is good and it kept me hooked and reading nonstop. Not to mention that the Adler-Olsen's style of writing is truly engaging. I didn't like the little background on the group. Why were they like that? Aside from Kimmie, Adler-Olsen never explained why the rest of the group acted the way they did. I guess sometimes evil doesn't need to be fully explained and there are cases when you are born being evil or you aren't. But a little less description of the animals and their killing and a little bit more about the actual members of the gang would've been great.
1dachsmom More than 1 year ago
This is the second book in the Dept. Q. series I have read. I thoroughly enjoy this writer, and the story line as much as the first book. The language in this book was a bit much but I still highly recommend it. It's a great mystery. Looking forward to the next book.
tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
This follow-up novel in the Department Q series, in which Carl Morck made his debut in “The Keeper of Lost Causes,” is quite different from the introductory book. It is more complicated, while the character of the protagonist and his assistant, Assad, essentially remain the same. And to spice things up, another “assistant” is provided to Morck, the head of the office devoted to solving cold cases. This time it is a female, Rose, who, having failed her driving test at the Police Academy, is unable to achieve her desire to become an officer and has to settle for working at headquarters as a secretary. Carl becomes intrigued with a 20-year-old case for which someone who has confessed is already serving a sentence for the murder of a brother and sister. However, it becomes apparent that some of his boarding g school classmates, now rich and prominent figures in Danish society, may have been involved not only in that crime, but also in a series of brutal assaults and even other murders. It is up to Carl and his “staff” to solve the case, despite being told by higher authority to stop their investigation. The story is brutal and black, filled with riveting descriptions and depravity, the portrayals vivid. A worthy successor to a well-received first installment, setting the stage for the third, due out from Dutton in Canada in May and from Penguin in the UK in September (and, hopefully, not too long thereafter in the US), it is recommended.
knaresPF More than 1 year ago
Whilst not as original or compelling as the first in the series, it is still a good read
marlo48 More than 1 year ago
I really am enjoying this book. I got hooked on the "Keeper of Lost Causes" Love the characters. I hope more books in the series will be translated by Lisa Hartford, as she clearly contributes to the flavor of the story.
booksaregreatDW More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. Reading left me wondering what was happening all through the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
quite boring--villains developed way too soon and with a predictable plot. Couldnt finish.
calland2 More than 1 year ago
Cold case, old school ties, revenge in this delightful Danish mystery. Bit gruesome in parts with some very nasty characters but worth the read.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I would have given it 5 stars but i could not bear the c?ue?ty. It was too realistic for me. Jussi is my new Henning Mankle. His complaints and longings are entertaining.
Andrew_of_Dunedin More than 1 year ago
Many times, an author comes close to being great with their first novel in a new series, and manages to put it all together in the 2nd or 3rd book. The “problem”, if you can call it that, is that I loved Jussi Adler-Olsen's first book in the Department Q series, “The Keeper of Lost Causes”. It would have been difficult to improve upon that book. The fact that Mr. Adler-Olsen manages to stay close to that mark is noteworthy. Our protagonist, Carl Mørck, the head of Department Q, is shown on the job and on the home front. (His co-workers are only shown / discussed on the job, with any hints that they have a personal life limited to conversations at work.) The other vantage points taken during this novel are those of Kimmie, a homeless woman who lives in and around Copenhagen's train station – and those of a few of Denmark's most successful - and morally bankrupt – citizens. Author Adler-Olsen keeps shifting the vantage point between those 4 perspectives, as they all begin to merge together into a tight and thrilling climax. Not as good as “The Keeper of Lost Causes”, but then, I didn't think it could be. Still enjoyable, though. RATING: 4 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting plot but poor writing style, awkward dialogue, etc. etc. Protag wasn't likable at all. 
Brodk More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book. Good characterization, good plot, good writing/translation. Marred only by the protagonist's impatience with his admittedly off-the-wall assistants.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is a surfeit of flawed detective characters in novels today, especially, it seems, in Scandinavian fiction. Carl Morck of Department Q is one of the most interesting. The cases are intriguing and have enough twists and turns to create suspense. The supporting cast of characters are fun to follow, if a little unlikely. I've enjoyed each of the novels in the series and look forward to the next.
mkozlow More than 1 year ago
This book attacks the mystery in a different way, since you know the players and their issues, the mystery is how does he tie them together and why are they together. It is very easy to stop reading. It takes a lot of will power to see it through. The climax is a bit far fetched and the ending predictable after about three quarters of the story. Not sure that I want to even start book three.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my second book by Adler-Olsen. Will read all novels in the Departmnet Q series. Never boring, interesting characters. Some may not like the settings not being in America but then you get a window into crime solving in a different country. I am a picky reader, don't always read best-sellers or trendy books or novels written in a series but Adler-Olsen keeps me interested.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SUEHAV More than 1 year ago
Another author I'm really enjoying. Loved Steig, Love Jo Nesbo and Camilla Lackberg. Now Jussi Adler-Olsen. Dept Q and it's cold cases are right up my interest alley. I'm hoping Rose becomes part of Carl and Assad's investigative team. I don't worry about pronouncing street, town and locations because bottom line it makes no difference in enjoying the story. Just ordered the third Q book "A Conspiracy of Faith" Do yourself a favor and give this author a try.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago