Killer Nashville’s Book of the Day / Friday, September 21, 2012 / “The Absent One” by Jussi Alder-Olsen / Reviewed by Clay Stafford

Today’s featured book is The Absent One by Jussi Alder-Olsen.

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Why I chose this book:

“The Absent One” is my first introduction to Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen and only the second of his books to be published in English. He is a bestseller in Europe. His books hit the bestseller list and stay there. The two books in print in English are both “Department Q” novels, with “The Absent One” being the second in the series. I haven’t read the first book so I can’t compare this to the other, but not having read the first one didn’t harm the storytelling of this one in the least. This is easily a strong – very strong – standalone. This is a cold case story, around 25 years old. The story locks you in like quicksand. It’s hard to pull yourself away. There are concurrent stories playing out which gives the novel the feel of a thriller movie. This happens here, then something else happens there, all converging towards the ultimate climax. There is little mystery. You watch the chess game being played out. Several angles are taking place all at the same time: the police are trying to find the killers, the killers are trying to find the person who can betray them, and someone the killers betrayed is trying to get revenge by killing the killers. Some characters you just frankly want to die (and very painfully). Definitely a demographic span from the sadistically rich to the impoverished, homeless opportunists; these are ruthless people all around. The storytelling is tight. Personal conflicts and biases are introduced subtlety, but obviously definitely planned in every section. The imagery has been carefully chosen, setting the tone. For example, I love the slithering factor of one character where she doesn’t just change clothes (or disguises). She will “slough her skin” instead. From this, you sense her reptilian characteristics. These types of visual descriptions give the novel a texture that just telling us alone does not. However, they are not overdone. This is not a “literary” novel by any means (saying that as a compliment), but one well-paced and composed reminding me of a great recipe: just enough spice to make it pleasurable, but not overdone. Having read the book, I’m a new fan of this writer.

From Amazon:

“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.”

If you want to make your own comments on this selection, we would love to hear from you. Join ourFacebook Killer Nashville group page or our blog and join in the discussion.

Remember that these books are listed at a discount through Amazon. You also don’t have to purchase the version that is featured here. Many of these books are available in multiple formats: e–book, hardcover, softcover, and audio. Enjoy!

Clay Stafford, Founder of Killer Nashville

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About Clay Stafford

Clay Stafford is an author / filmmaker (www.ClayStafford.com) and founder of Killer Nashville (www.KillerNashville.com). As a writer himself, he has over 1.5 million copies of his own books in print in over 14 languages. Stafford’s latest projects are the feature documentary “One of the Miracles” (www.OneOfTheMiracles.com) and the music CD “XO” (www.JefferyDeaverXOMusic.com). A champion of writers, Publishers Weekly has identified Stafford as playing “an essential role in defining which books become bestsellers” throughout “the nation’s book culture.” (PW 6/10/13)
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