The Boy In the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberol and Agnette Friis was a mystery book club pick by one of our members.
The book starts off fast-paced and with a great premise: Nina Borg gets a
phone call from her friend Karin, who says that she needs to go immediately to a Copenhagen train station and open a public locker. She’s told she will find a suitcase in the locker, but to not open it while in the train station.
She finds a three year old boy, drugged but still alive, in the suitcase.
Surprise! Given the title, there’s no surprise in that bit of knowledge.
Many comments on Goodreads indicated how frustrated people were with the first 60 or so pages of the books, as the authors introduce characters who seemingly have nothing to do with each other. Hang in there! They do!
The action takes place over the span of two days and in several different countries, Denmark and Lithuania. After Nina finds the boy in the suitcase, the logical thing for her to do would have been to bring him to the police. But does she do that? No… she drags him around with her, leaving him in a hot car for a period of time, neglecting to feed him, and letting him see a dead woman.
Nina is supposedly a “do-gooder” but I find fault with that. She’s a terrible mother, wife, and caretaker of this small boy. Nina ignores her family for two whole days while she “takes care” of this boy. At one point, the police go to her house and talk with her husband, who believes her injured or in serious trouble. As indicated in the previous paragraph, she doesn’t take very good care of the little boy, providing him with the minimum of food, sleep, protection, and comfort. And she’s irresponsible! By the end of the book, I’d about had it with Nina Borg.
What I did enjoy in this book were the social issues the authors touched upon. Prostitution, sex slavery, child kidnapping, child trafficking, and the underbelly of Europe were exposed. And let me tell you- it ain’t pretty. Denmark in the past is said to have one of the highest standards of living and some of the happiest and fulfilled people in the world. A socialist nation, they get free healthcare, free college education, long maternity/paternity leave, child care, etc, etc- all of which sound pretty good to me. But, like in any culture, there are also the unsavory aspects of a nation.
A quick, easy, fast-paced read, I thought The Boy In the Suitcase was an excellent pick for this time of year. I listened to it on audio and thought the narrator was excellent. It was very helpful listening to it because I likely would have struggled with the pronunciations of the names, places, etc. The Boy In the Suitcase is the first book in a series featuring Nina Borg, and while I liked this book, I won’t be continuing the series. Nina just drives me nuts.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.