Monday, December 26, 2011

The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis

I don't read many books shelved in mystery these days, so I've largely missed the Scandinavian mystery craze. I take mysteries home, but once I figure out who done it, I tend to pick something else out of my ever growing TBR (To Be Read) pile. So I was surprised to find myself staying up way too late after opening The Boy in the Suitcase.

Before turning to crime novels, both Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis were the authors of books aimed at children and young adults (most of which are, unfortunately, not available stateside). While The Boy in the Suitcase may appeal to some older teens, it's definitely not a children's book.

You may've seen Andrew's Facebook link to S.S. Van Dine's "Twenty-two rules for writing detective stories," and I'm happy to say that The Boy in the Suitcase breaks almost every rule. It's no spoiler to say that the very young boy in the suitcase is the victim of kidnapping, and not murder.

The novel is delightfully fast-paced, as the various narrators are drawn together. I enjoy this technique, especially when the characters are compelling. Despite damaged Red Cross nurse Nina Borg's billing as the heroine, even minor side characters are given color and personality. An important fact in a novel where there is no secret as to who placed a 3 year-old Lithuanian boy in a luggage locker in Denmark train station, and the reader is instead asked to guess why.

The book jacket promises that this is the first in a series of novels featuring the adventures of Nin Borg, but I haven't been able to find any hint as to when a second book will be out in English. So, while I'm waiting, I plan to try The Exception by Christian Jungersen and Sun Storm by Asa Larsson, reviews of which promise fast-paced mysteries with strong female characters. It's never too late to jump on the Scandinavian bandwagon!

-Sarah, Adult Services

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