The Keeper of Lost Causes

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29/08/14

Based on the Department Q novels of Jussi Adler-Olsen, The Keeper of Lost Causes (awful title) is a slow-burning Scandi-Noir that seems a perfect fit for fans of The Killing and The Bridge – though judging by the audience of six that attended the afternoon screening we went to, not enough people have heard about it.

Nickolaj Lie Kaas stars as the unfortunately named Carl Morck, a headstrong detective who on one fateful investigation doesn’t wait for the appropriate back-up and gets one of his partners killed and the other paralysed. Hated by his colleagues and understandably pretty depressed (the recent break up of his marriage hasn’t helped matters), he’s given a new role by his hard-pressed boss and assigned the thankless task of reviewing cold cases and ‘putting them to bed.’ He’s also given a new partner, Assad (Fares Fares) a Muslim detective who has spent most of his career working on the cases that nobody else wants. For him, this is a promotion, but for Morck it’s a slap in the face. Eventually, his interest is aroused by a five year old case, that of a young woman, Meretes Lynggaard (Sonia Richter) missing presumed drowned. But something about the evidence offered by witnesses on the ferry crossing from which she disappeared doesn’t quite add up…

Unlike the detectives, we actually  know what happened to her – her fate is revealed in a series of vivid flashbacks – and it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that she is alive, imprisoned and being treated horribly (what is it about the Scandi crime writers’ mentality that loves to see female characters tortured?) As Morck and Assad move inexorably closer to a solution, even after they’ve been taken off the case… the tension builds to almost unbearable levels. Cynics might argue that the two cops never seem to make a mistake; their intuition pays off every time, but that’s a minor quibble. This is a gripping thriller that deserves a much bigger audience than it’s likely to get in the multiplexes.

Anybody out there with spandex fatigue, this one’s for you!

4 stars

Philip Caveney

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