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THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE


By Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis
Translated from the Danish by Lene Kaaberbøl

Soho Crime, 2011 ($24.00)
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-981-0
Kindle eBook: $9.12

Reviewed by Larry Jung
(January, 2012)

Are there anything like second chances in life? Or third, or forth? The characters in the Danish crime thriller THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE are driven to know the answer. Nina Borg has more than once runaway from her husband and two children, deserted them to hide herself in Third World countries as a volunteer nurse. She would rather minister to people she doesn't know than to bear up to the responsibilities of being a mother and wife. Sigita cherishes her little boy Mikas as she lives day-by-day trying not to make the same mistake twice. Jan, a successful and wealthy business man, tries to buy the family life he yearns for.

Their lives come together when the boy Mikas is abducted. His mother Sigita remembers nothing when she wakes up with a broken arm in the hospital. Nina, as a favor for a friend, picks up a suitcase at one of the lockers at the train station only to discover a heavily sedated child in the suitcase. The boy is the missing Mikas. Nina doesn't know what to do. Her first instict was to call the police, but her experience with the international buying and selling of women and children in Denmark makes her change her mind about reporting and handing over Mikas. The mother or father might turn around and sell the child again. There is a black-market for young children of both sexes. Unfortunately Nina is spotted by the abductor who wants his money or the boy back. She takes the boy and goes on the run. She is afraid to involve her family by going home. She tries to contact Karin, the friend who asked Nina to do the pick up. But Karin is gone and not answering her mobile. Meanwhile Sigita is getting no sympathy from anyone, especially the police. She was found so drunk that she had passed out and fallen downstairs and broke her arm. At first Sigita thought her estranged boyfriend Darius, the boy's biological father, had taken Mikas. When it was determined the boy wasn't with Darius and there were no ransom demands, Sigita could only think the worst. The police weren't exerting themselves. She was an immigrant, a single mother, and a drunk.

THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE is a refreshing change from the current crop of crime thrillers. The plot is believable, the characters are sympathetic, and the type of crime is too real in today's Europe. The social commentary on the immigrant problem in current-day Denmark doesn't get in the way of the authors writing an exciting crime thriller. The suspense is driven by the plight of the characters, their human frailties, and their reserves of strength. The writing pulls you into their stories. Add THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE to your must-read-list.

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