Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: The Boy in the Suitcase (Audio)

Summary: Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse, wife, and mother of two, is trying to live a quiet life. The last thing her husband wants is for her to go running off on another dangerous mission to help illegal refugees. But when Nina's estranged friend Karin leaves Nina a key to a public locker in the Copenhagen train station and begs her to take care of its contents, Nina gets suckered into her most dangerous case yet. Because inside the suitcase is a three-year-old boy: naked and drugged, but alive. Nina's natural instinct is to rescue the boy, but she knows the situation is risky. Is the boy a victim of child trafficking? Can he be turned over to authorities, or will they only return him to whoever sold him? In an increasingly desperate trek across Denmark, Nina tries to figure out who the boy is, where he belongs, and who exactly is hunting him down. When Karin is discovered brutally murdered, Nina realizes that her life and the boy's are in jeopardy, too. -- AudioGo

Maybe I just never noticed before, but it seems like ever since THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO became such a big hit that there have been more and more translated mysteries available in the U.S. I have only read a few of these novels, but I've found that I've been pleased with this "new-to-me" genre. The latest foreign mystery that I read (or should I say listened to?) was THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis. It was originally published in Danish and then translated by one of the authors Lene Kaaberbøl; and I found it to be a very complex and entertaining mystery.

THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE tells the story of Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse who has never really shied away from danger. Despite being a wife and mother of two, Nina has been known for leaving her family for dangerous missions that help illegal immigrants. When her long-time (but recently absent) friend Karin gives Nina to a key to a locker at the train station and asks her to take care of the suitcase and its contents, Nina is naturally curious about Karin's strange and very desperate behavior. She becomes even more concerned when she discovers that the suitcase contains a three year old boy who has been drugged.

Of course, Nina is shocked beyond belief when she finds this boy, but she's also extremely guarded because she sensed that a man at the train station was looking for the suitcase. Rather than going straight to the police, Nina decides to keep the boy and "protect" him. For some reason, Nina was afraid that the child was a victim of child trafficking and didn't want him returned to a "bad" situation. As Nina tries to figure out the child's identity, she stumbles upon some strange situations -- none being more strange than discovering Karin brutally murdered. Nina quickly realizes that not only is the boy in danger, but she is as well!

Overall, I really enjoyed THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE! As a mother, I did find the plot to be a little scary (well more than a little!); however, I thought the mystery and the characters were all pretty complex; and I definitely appreciated how the story unfolded. The story went back and forth between quite a few characters and story lines, and I wasn't sure how they were all related until near the end of the novel. I can assure you that it wasn't until almost the very end of the novel that I began to piece together the different characters, and I did find the motive for the crimes to be intriguing and pretty darn surprising (and maybe even a little disturbing.)

One thing that really impressed me about THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE was how interesting the characters of Nina was. Ironically, I was actually kind of bothered by her for much of the story because, in my mind, she should have contacted the police right away... as soon as she discovered this unconscious little boy. As I listened to more and more of this story, I began to think that Nina had some "issues," and it became apparent that she was carrying her fair share of baggage. While some of this eventually came out, I think there is definitely a lot more to Nina's story, and I'm hoping that the next novel (yes, THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE is the first in a series!) goes into some more details about Nina's past.

For the most part, I thought THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE was an excellent story; however, I do have to admit that I had some problems following the story. I got very confused about who the characters were (especially given that the names and locations were foreign), and I couldn't figure out how the stories were tied together. Since I was listening to this book while working out, I blame myself because I probably wasn't concentrating as much as I should have. Also, I couldn't go back and re-read a section if I didn't follow it. I actually listened to about two hours of this book and decided that I needed to start over. Once I did this, I had absolutely no problems with the different stories and everything began to make sense. 

As far as audio books go, I think THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE was a good one! It was read by Katherine Kellgren, and I was extremely impressed with her presentation style. Her voice was very pleasing, and I think she had just enough drama; however, it was her accents that blew me away. I honestly have no idea whether they were "accurate," but to my American ears, I thought they were all different and sounded very authentic!

I thoroughly enjoyed THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE and can't wait for the next book in the series INVISIBLE MURDER. Highly recommended!

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

What is it with Scandinavians and gruesome mysteries? This sounds like another winner from that part of the world! I'm with you, though, - it sounds like she should have gone straight to the police.

Serena said...

This sounds like a great read. Shall I recommend two mystery novels that my friend Kyle translated? I think I will: The Caller by Karen Fossum and The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Yes, I was surprised at how confusing the names and places were for me in the Danish mystery I recently read, especially since I don't have as much trouble with any other Scandinavian country!

Stacie said...

I saw this was a popular buy for the Kindle and considered it, but decided to pass on it thinking that it really probably wasn't what I would like. But, I will keep it in mind if I get an itch for a good mystery.

Beth F said...

I have done the same thing before -- listened to an hour or so and then started over. I usually click at the second start. I admit that I'm hooked on the Scandinavian mysteries.