Get to the Point, Book Reviews: The Absent One, by Jussi Adler-Olsen

This is a regular, but not frequent, blog series entitled Get to the Point, Book Reviews.

Book Review Rules:
1. Get to the point.
– No drawn out hemming and hawing about recommending the book.
– The answer will either be “yes” or “no” followed up with points that are
relevant to the recommendation.

2. Honesty.
– No need for exaggeration or belaboring a point.
– I’m not into trashing authors or their works.

3. No Delving or Deep Diving
– I hate reading reviews where everything about a book is outlined, in which case, I become immediately disinclined to read the book for myself.
– I will leave room for discovery. Character names, situations, plot, etc. may or may not be a point of discussion.

The book may (or may not) work for me personally but that’s not to say it didn’t do wonders for (or fail) someone else.


The Absent One (Department Q Series, #2), by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Would I recommend this book?

The Goods

1. Highly engaging detective / thriller / mystery novel. You can begin reading at any point in the series and not get lost or feel the need to start from the first book in the Department Q series, and I appreciate that.

I read the first Department Q novel, The Keeper of Lost Causes (a book I do recommend) seven years ago, and then I read book #6, The Hanging Girl, in 2017, referenced here, and enjoyed that one immensely despite the overwhelming busyness of the characters.

2. The pacing is always on point and the energy palatable.

3. Excellent character personalities. Carl Morck (MC) remains brooding, contrary, relatable, and an overall respected hard ass. Assad, Carl’s assistant, is a wonderful foil to Carl’s uncompromising presentation, often providing a sense of humor and quiet seriousness. Assad pulls a lot of weight as a side character, my only complaint was there wasn’t enough of him this go around. Rose Knudson was introduced in this book and a needed personality who solidifies the team, although Carl doesn’t realize it at first.

4. Kimmie, the absent one, was well written. I enjoyed her point of view as an antagonist, deadly as well as oddly realistic.

The Not So Good

1. The antagonists were many but pretty much the same. Their number was unnecessary. Other than a few distinguishing details like names and some character traits, I couldn’t keep them apart in terms of importance. With the exception of Kimmie, the bad guys were really a blob of activity. They all had similar demographics and concerns. I would have suggested two (three at most) bad guys and Kimmie (who was the MC’s focus) as the original number were unnecessary and forgettable.

2. The ‘blob of bad guys’ (if you will) was overly active in its violent activities, to the point of being unbelievable. No group that large can accumulate that much havoc as private citizens (wealthy, private citizens) and not get noticed, caught, or busted someway, somehow. The activities of the gang, over the period of time the author suggests, requires too much suspension of belief.

3. The lead-up to the forest hunt scene was done well enough. Despite the onslaught of bad guys, the story paces ever onward towards the ending. The confrontation between the antagonists, Kimmie, and Carl is not what it should have been. It fizzled out.

To be fair, the antagonists endings were very appropriate, even Kimmie’s.

4. Assad and Rose did not receive a follow-up at the novel’s conclusion, but given that it’s a series, the author likely didn’t feel the need to check in with them. I would have preferred it, though.


I’ve now read three of seven Department Q books by Jussi Adler-Olsen, I would recommend the series despite not recommending The Absent One. I’m sure you’ve read a series where some novels are better than others but that didn’t keep you from enjoying the collection, as is this case.

Jussi Adler-Olsen really showcases true Nordic Noir, or Scandi Noir, for which there is a plethora. An outstanding and internationally known example would be, The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (also strongly recommend), and Adler-Olsen has stayed true to his writing style and the genre as a whole.

What novel in a series of works let you down? A lot of people tell me Order of the Phoenix was their least favorite Harry Potter book. Naturally, Order is my favorite in the series, but I understand where others are coming from.