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Jussi Adler-Olsen books in order

Jussi Adler-Olsen is a Danish author of mystery and thriller novels.

Born in Copenhagen, he undertook several jobs as a publisher, editor, film composer for the Valhalla cartoon, and as a bookseller before turning to writing.

Originally written in his native Danish, his books have done well internationally, with his debut novel The Alphabet House - Alfabethuset (1997), as well as the first four books of the Department Q series earning film adaptations.

Jussi attributes his political studies, a background in film science and a childhood as the son of a chief psychiatrist as the inspiration for coming up with diverse topics: from deep insanity, to destinies being shattered by society, and international conspiracies.

His work has drawn several awards, including: the 2019 Readers’ Choice (The Crime Fair) Denmark; the 2015 Ripper Award, Europe; the 2012 Barry Award, USA; and the 2011 De Gyldne Laurbær (The Golden Laurels), Denmark.

More about Jussi Adler-Olsen

Genres: Mystery, Thriller

Born: 1950



Non Series

  • The Alphabet House - Alfabethuset (1997)
  • The Washington Decree - Washington Dekretet (2018)

Department Q

  1. The Keeper of Lost Causes - Kvinden i Buret (2011)
  2. The Absent One - Fasandræberne (2012)
  3. A Conspiracy of Faith - Flaskepost fra P. (2013)
  4. The Purity of Vengeance - Journal 64 (2013)
  5. The Marco Effect - Marco Effekten (2013)
  6. The Hanging Girl - Den Grænseløse (2014)
  7. The Scarred Woman - Selfies (2016)
  8. Victim 2117 - Offer 2117 (2020)
  9. The Shadow Murders - Natrium Chlorid (2022)

Detailed book overview

Non Series

The Alphabet House

British pilots James Teasdale and Bryan Young have been chosen to conduct a special photo-reconnaissance mission near Dresden, Germany. Intelligence believes the Nazis are building new factories that could turn the tide of the war. When their plane is shot down, James and Bryan know they will be executed if captured. With an enemy patrol in pursuit, they manage to jump aboard a train reserved for senior SS soldiers wounded on the eastern front.

In a moment of desperation, they throw two patients off the train and take their places, hoping they can escape later. But their act is too convincing and they end up in the Alphabet House, a mental hospital located far behind enemy lines, where German doctors subject their patients to daily rounds of shock treatments and experimental drugs. The pilots’ only hope of survival is to fake insanity until the war ends, but their friendship and courage are put to the ultimate test when James and Bryan realize they aren’t the only ones in the Alphabet House feigning madness.

Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Original Title: Alfabethuset
First Release: 1997
ISBN: 978-1101983973
Publisher: Dutton
The Washington Decree

"The president has gone way too far...These are practically dictatorial methods we're talking about."

Sixteen years before Democratic Senator Bruce Jansen was elected president of the United States, a PR stunt brought together five very different people: fourteen-year-old Dorothy "Doggie" Rogers, small-town sheriff T. Perkins, single mother Rosalie Lee, well-known journalist John Bugatti, and the teenage son of one of Jansen's employees, Wesley Barefoot. In spite of their differences, the five remain bonded by their shared experience and devotion to their candidate.

For Doggie, who worked the campaign trail with Wesley, Jansen's election is a personal victory: a job in the White House, proof to her Republican father that she was right to support Jansen, and the rise of an intelligent, clear-headed leader with her same ideals. But the triumph is short-lived: Jansen's pregnant wife is assassinated on election night, and the alleged mastermind behind the shooting is none other than Doggie's own father.

When Jansen ascends to the White House, he is a changed man, determined to end gun violence by any means necessary. Rights are taken away as quickly as weapons. International travel becomes impossible. Checkpoints and roadblocks destroy infrastructure. The media is censored. Militias declare civil war on the government.

The country is in chaos, and Jansen's former friends each find themselves fighting a very different battle, for themselves, their rights, their country...and, in Doggie's case, the life of her father, who just may be innocent.

Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Original Title: Washington Dekretet
First Release: 2018
ISBN: 978-1524742539
Publisher: Dutton

Department Q

The Keeper of Lost Causes

Carl Mørck used to be one of Denmark’s best homicide detectives. Then a hail of bullets destroyed the lives of two fellow cops, and Carl—who didn’t draw his weapon—blames himself. So a promotion is the last thing he expects. But Department Q is a department of one, and Carl’s got only a stack of cold cases for company. His colleagues snicker, but Carl may have the last laugh, because one file keeps nagging at him: a liberal politician vanished five years earlier and is presumed dead. But she isn’t dead...yet.

NB: This book is also known as Mercy.

The Keeper of Lost Causes
Director: Mikkel Nørgaard
Cast: Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Fares Fares, Sonja Richter, Mikkel Følsgaard, Søren Pilmark, Troels Lyby, Patricia Schumann, Eric Ericson
Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Original Title: Kvinden i Buret
First Release: 2011
ISBN: 978-0452297906
Publisher: Dutton
The Absent One

In "The Keeper of Lost Causes," Jussi Adler-Olsen introduced Detective Carl Mørck, a deeply flawed but 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 well as one of her own that could turn everything on its head.

NB: This book is also known as Disgrace.

The Absent One
Director: Mikkel Nørgaard
Cast: Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Fares Fares, Pilou Asbæk, Marco Ilsø, David Dencik, Philip Stilling, Danica Curcic, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina, Johanne Louise Schmidt
Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Original Title: Fasandræberne
First Release: 2012
ISBN: 978-0142196830
Publisher: Dutton
A Conspiracy of Faith

Detective Carl Mørck and his colleagues Assad and Rose must use all of their resources to uncover a horrifying truth...

Carl Mørck holds in his hands a bottle that contains old and decayed message, written in blood. It is a cry for help from two young brothers, tied and bound in a boathouse by the sea. Could it be real? Who are these boys, and why weren’t they reported missing? Could they possibly still be alive?

Carl’s investigation will force him to cross paths with a woman stuck in a desperate marriage—her husband refuses to tell her where he goes, what he does, how long he will be away. For days on end she waits, and when he returns she must endure his wants, his moods, his threats. But enough is enough. She will find out the truth, no matter the cost to her husband—or to herself...

NB: This book is also known as Redemption.

A Conspiracy of Faith
Director: Hans Petter Moland
Cast: Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Fares Fares, Pål Sverre Hagen, Jakob Ulrich Lohmann, Amanda Collin, Johanne Louise Schmidt, Søren Pilmark
Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Original Title: Flaskepost fra P.
First Release: 2013
ISBN: 978-0142180815
Publisher: Dutton
The Purity of Vengeance

Detective Carl Mørck and his Department Q team delve into a cold case that turns into more than they may be able to handle...

In 1987, Nete Hermansen plans revenge on those who abused her—especially Curt Wad, a surgeon who was part of a movement to sterilize wayward girls in the 1950s. More than twenty years later, Detective Carl Mørck already has plenty on his mind when he is presented with the case of a brothel owner, a woman named Rita, who went missing in the eighties: New evidence has emerged in the case that sent Carl to Department Q.

But when Carl’s assistants, Assad and Rose, learn that numerous other people disappeared around the same weekend as Rita, Carl takes notice. Sifting through the evidence, they inch closer to Curt Wad, who is still committed to his twisted beliefs, and whose treatment of Nete only hints at his capacity for evil.

NB: This book is also known as Guilt.

The Purity of Vengeance
Director: Christoffer Boe
Cast: Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Fares Fares, Johanne Louise Schmidt, Søren Pilmark, Fanny Bornedal, Clara Rosager, Luise Skov, Amanda Radeljak, Anders Hove, Nicolas Bro, Elliott Crosset Hove
Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Original Title: Journal 64
First Release: 2013
ISBN: 978-0142181317
Publisher: Dutton
The Marco Effect

A teenaged boy on the run propels Detective Carl Mørck into Department Q’s most sinister case yet...

Fifteen-year-old Marco Jameson longs to become a Danish citizen and go to school like a normal teenager. Unfortunately, his Uncle Zola forces the children of their former gypsy clan to beg and steal for his personal gain. When Marco discovers a dead body that proves the true extent of Zola’s criminal activities, he goes on the run. But it turns out his family members aren’t the only ones who want to keep Marco silent...forever.

Detective Carl Mørck wants to save the boy, but Marco’s trail leads him to a case that extends from Denmark to Africa, from embezzlers to child soldiers, from seemingly petty crime rings to the very darkest of cover-ups.

NB: This book is also known as Buried.

Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Original Title: Marco Effekten
First Release: 2013
ISBN: 978-0147516626
Publisher: Dutton
The Hanging Girl

In the middle of his usual hard-won morning nap in the basement of police headquarters, Carl Mørck, head of Department Q, receives a call from a colleague working on the Danish island of Bornholm.

Carl is dismissive when he realizes that a new case is being foisted on him, but a few hours later, he receives some shocking news that leaves his headstrong assistant Rose more furious than usual. Carl has no choice but to lead Department Q into the tragic cold case of a vivacious seventeen-year-old girl who vanished from school, only to be found dead hanging high up in a tree.

The investigation will take them from the remote island of Bornholm to a strange sun-worshipping cult, where Carl, Assad, Rose, and newcomer Gordon attempt to stop a string of new murders and a skilled manipulator who refuses to let anything—or anyone—get in the way.

Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Original Title: Den Grænseløse
First Release: 2014
ISBN: 978-1101984222
Publisher: Dutton
The Scarred Woman

Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q, Copenhagen's cold cases division, meets his toughest challenge yet when the dark, troubled past of one of his own team members collides with a sinister unsolved murder.

In a Copenhagen park the body of an elderly woman is discovered. The case bears a striking resemblance to another unsolved murder investigation from over a decade ago, but the connection between the two victims confounds the police. Across town a group of young woman are being hunted. The attacks seem random, but could these brutal acts of violence be related? Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q is charged with solving the mystery.

Back at headquarters, Carl and his team are under pressure to deliver results: failure to meet his superiors' expectations will mean the end of Department Q. Solving the case, however, is not their only concern. After an earlier breakdown, their colleague Rose is still struggling to deal with the reemergence of her past--a past in which a terrible crime may have been committed.

It is up to Carl, Assad, and Gordon to uncover the dark and violent truth at the heart of Rose's childhood before it is too late.

Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Original Title: Selfies
First Release: 2016
ISBN: 978-1101984239
Publisher: Dutton
Victim 2117

The newspaper refers to the body only as Victim 2117—the two thousand one hundred and seventeenth refugee to die in the Mediterranean Sea. But to three people, the unnamed victim is so much more, and the death sets off a chain of events that throws Department Q, Copenhagen’s cold cases division led by Detective Carl Mørck, into a deeply dangerous—and deeply personal—case. A case that not only reveals dark secrets about the past, but has deadly implications for the future.

For troubled Danish teen Alexander, whose identity is hidden behind his computer screen, the death of Victim 2117 becomes a symbol of everything he resents and the perfect excuse to unleash his murderous impulses in real life. For Ghaalib, one of the most brutal tormentors from Abu Ghraib—Saddam Hussein’s infamous prison—the death of Victim 2117 is the first step in a terrorist plot years in the making. And for Department Q’s Assad, Victim 2117 is a link to his buried past—and the family he assumed was long dead.

With the help of the Department Q squad—Carl, Rose, and Gordon—Assad must finally confront painful memories from his years in the Middle East in order to find and capture Ghaalib. But with the clock ticking down to Alexander’s first kill and Ghaalib’s devastating attack, the thinly spread Department Q will need to stay one step ahead of their most lethal adversary yet if they are to prevent the loss of thousands of innocent lives.

Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Original Title: Offer 2117
First Release: 2020
ISBN: 978-1524742560
Publisher: Dutton
The Shadow Murders

On her 60th birthday, a woman commits suicide. When the case lands on Detective Carl Mørck’s desk, he can’t imagine what this has to do with Department Q, Copenhagen’s cold cases division. It’s a tragedy to be sure, but the cause of death seems to be clear. But his superior, Marcus Jacobsen, is convinced that this is not in fact a suicide, but a murder related to an unsolved case that has been plaguing him since 1988.

At Marcus' behest, Carl and the Department Q gang—Rose, Assad, and Gordon—reluctantly begin to investigate. However, they quickly discover that Marcus is on to something: Every two years for the past three decades, there have been unusual, impeccably timed deaths with connections between them that cannot be ignored. As they dig deeper, it becomes clear that these “accidents” are in fact murders by a very cunning and violent serial killer.

Faced with their toughest case yet, made only more difficult with COVID-19 restrictions and the challenges of their own personal lives, the Department Q team must race to find the culprit before the next murder is committed, as it is becoming increasingly clear that the killer is far from finished.

Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Original Title: Natrium Chlorid
First Release: 2022
ISBN: 978-0593632659
Publisher: Random House Large Print