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The Boy in the Suitcase (Nina Borg #1) [Hardcover]

Lene Kaaberbol , Agnete Friis
2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 8 2011 Nina Borg

Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse, wife, and mother of two, is a compulsive do-gooder who can't say no when someone asks for help—even when she knows better. When her estranged friend Karin leaves her a key to a public locker in the Copenhagen train station, Nina gets suckered into her most dangerous project yet. Inside the locker is a suitcase, and inside the suitcase is a three-year-old boy: naked and drugged, but alive.
 
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? When Karin is discovered brutally murdered, Nina realizes that her life and the boy's are in jeopardy, too. In an increasingly desperate trek across Denmark, Nina tries to figure out who the boy is, where he belongs, and who exactly is trying to hunt him down.


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Review

New York Times Bestseller 
The New York Times Book Review Notable Crime Book of 2011
Strand Magazine Critics Award Nominee
Indie Next List November 2011 Pick
Barry Award Nominee for Best First Novel
Harald Morgensen Award for Best Danish Thriller of the Year
Glass Key Crime Fiction Award Nominee


“Here’s something you don’t often see in Nordic noir fiction — a novel written by two women about the criminal mistreatment of women and children, compassionately told from a feminine perspective and featuring female characters you can believe in…. the first collaborative effort of Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis, and it packs an almighty punch.”
The New York Times Book Review, Notable Crime Book of 2011

Fans of Nordic crime fiction, rejoice: Something is rotten in Denmark. But never fear, Red Cross nurse Nina Borg is on the case.... A wild ride.”
New York Post

“Terrific.... What’s for sure is that, once you start reading, you can’t stop — it’s as if the poor kid’s life depends on your getting to the end as fast as possible.... looks like another winning entry in the emotionally lacerating Scandinavian mystery sweepstakes.”
The Washington Post

“Written in that sparse, uniquely Scandinavian style sure to draw comparisons with a certain blockbuster trilogy (this is better), this story packs plenty of emotional suspense and interpersonal friction without veering into melodrama. Kaaberbol and Friis know when to reveal and when to pull back, presenting just enough back story about Sigita's upbringing and marriage, just enough about Nina's relationship with her family and friends, without ever interrupting the action. The disparate perspectives do as much to humanize all the action as they do to disorient — and I mean that in the best possible sense.”
Associated Press
 
“A frightening and tautly told story of the lengths to which people will go for family and money.”
USA Today

“A terrific central character and a great plot.... As the story builds, each storyline is woven in, and no character, including Nina Borg, is what we think.... A series to watch.”Toronto Globe and Mail

"Soho is known for high-quality crime fiction set around the globe, so it's no surprise that this gripping Danish thriller kept me turning pages while its poignant characters lodged in my heart. Denmark has never looked so sinister!"
—Denise Hamilton, Edgar-winning author of the Eve Diamond series, The Last Embrace and Damage Control

"Stunning. Hooked me from the beginning. The Danish bourgeoisie and the criminal underworld collide in a moving, fast-paced thriller with psychological depth."
—Cara Black, bestselling author of Murder in the Marais

"Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnette Friis have created a dark shimmering gem of a crime thriller in The Boy in the Suitcase. Using the reliable skills we’ve come to expect from their Nordic brethren—clean tight prose, recognizably human characters, a fierce social conscience and airtight plotting—they’ve fashioned as engaging a story as you’re going to read anytime soon. The pages blur you read them so quickly, and yet the wallop to your mind and heart is real and deep. There must be something in the water up there—for which we should all be profoundly grateful."
—David Corbett, Edgar-nominated author of Do They Know I’m Running?

“A must for Scandinavian crime fiction aficionados."
Library Journal, Starred Review

“A great introduction to an award-winning team of Danish authors.”
—November 2011 Indie Next List

“Women characters get star turns in this book, with the most poignant being Sigita, the young single mother desperate to find her missing son. Realizing how acutely alone she is in this pursuit, Sigita summons a pugilistic tenacity in the face of the indifference of family and police to her son’s plight as well as her own.”
Boston Globe 

“Among the best crime novels of the year…. marks Kaaberbol and Friis as serious talents to be reckoned with, ready to be discovered by an American audience.”—Publishers Marketplace

“Stieg Larsson fans will find a lot to like in The Boy in the Suitcase ... [Nina Borg] will strike many, particularly female readers, as a more appealing version of Lisbeth Salander.”
Publishers Weekly

“Of all the recent Scandinavian thrillers that have been rushed into translation for fans of Stieg Larsson, here’s one whose pair of strong heroines taking on a monstrous conspiracy of men behaving badly is actually reminiscent of the Millennium Trilogy.... A debut that’s a model of finely tuned suspense.”
Kirkus Reviews

“This past-paced, suspenseful thriller intertwines several stories, gradually revealing the motivations of multiple characters and building tremendous suspense. The novel should be recommended to anyone who enjoys Asa Larsson’s Rebecka Martinsson series and, especially, Christian Jungersen’s The Exception (2007), another Danish thriller focused on a group of female characters.”
Booklist

The Boy in the Suitcase ratchets along at a breathless pace, skillfully switching points of view in a tightly choreographed arrangement.”
Daily Beast

"This is a thrilling and most urgent novel reflecting a terrifying reality."
—Maj Sjowall, bestselling co-author of the Martin Beck series

"Warning! If you open this book, your life will be on stand-by."
Elle (Denmark)

"Extraordinary.... A crime novel where everything is perfectly done."
The Weekend Newspaper (Denmark)

The Boy in the Suitcase, cements Scandinavia’s reputation as a new hunting ground for tautly-plotted, well-written mysteries…. a fast-paced thriller written in tight and sparse prose that seems to be the hallmark of Scandinavian mystery authors. A compelling read that you’ll find hard to put down.”
—Mystery Cime Librarian

"The first in a series of mysteries from Denmark is a highly emotional story of secrets and bad decisions. It is also about women: desperate, scared women; women who refuse to look at choices they’ve made; and most of all, a very determined, brave woman who has to get involved in the lives of others. It starts with a series of short chapters from the viewpoints of seemingly unconnected characters. The writing is sparse, never telling the readers more than they must know at the moment and the action and emotion are continuous. The surprise ending is perfect. You won’t be able to put this down."
Romantic Times

“The Boy in the Suitcase is an exceptional crime fiction debut that shines a light on a tragic and real social issue. It manages to address this problem with a seriousness and social conscience that add significant weight to the story. It is an engaging, suspenseful, and excellently written crime fiction novel with complex and well-drawn characters which has been a bestseller throughout Scandinavia. The Boy in the Suitcase is definitely worth a read!”
—Scandinavian Books' Nordic Book Blog

The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis is another exemplary Scandinavian mystery with a seriously driven heroine, and a most unusual plot and premise, that will keep you guessing until the very end.”
—BookLoons, Recommended Read

“A fast paced thriller that keeps the reader interested and invested from the moment Nina discovers the life stolen away inside that suitcase…. Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis have written a story about motherhood, immigration, crime and punishment and redemption that needs no comparison.”
—Literate Housewife

About the Author

Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis are the Danish duo behind the Nina Borg series. Friis is a journalist by training, while Kaaberbøl has been a professional writer since the age of 15, with more than 2 million books sold worldwide. Their first collaboration, The Boy in the Suitcase, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, and has been translated into 27 languages.

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Customer Reviews

2.3 out of 5 stars
2.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
The story moves between Lithuania, where Sigita's three year old son has been kidnapped, and Denmark where Nina Borg helps her friend Karin by picking up a suitcase from the public locker in the Copenhagen train station. Inside the suitcase is a naked and drugged three year old boy. Nina should have known better: helping others isn't always in her best interests, and she and Karin have not been close friends for some time.

Who is this boy, where did he come from, and can the authorities help? Nina tries to find out more information from Karin, but when she discovers Karin brutally murdered she realises that she and the boy are also in danger. Meanwhile, in Lithuania, Sigita is having her own difficulties getting the authorities to believe that her son has been kidnapped. Who would kidnap him, and why? Is he still alive, or has he been sold into sex slavery?

`The only key to the mystery of where the boy came from was the boy himself.'

And, unfortunately, a language barrier prevents Nina from communicating effectively with him. At the centre of this crime is a wealthy man, and this particular boy has been chosen specifically. But when the payment goes missing, the boy's life may also be forfeit.

I found it difficult to put this book down: it isn't very long (around 300 pages) and I wanted to know how it would end. I found that the story read more smoothly from Nina's perspective than Sigita's simply because the boy was with Nina, and the reader's attention is more focussed on him.

This is the first book in a series to feature Nina Borg. I don't think that the second book is available (yet) in English. Nina is an interesting protagonist: a Red Cross nurse who has worked in a number of world hotspots, who is married and has two children, and has her own demons.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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2.0 out of 5 stars enthralling but badly written Sept. 19 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I got this book because I was travelling to Denmark and tried to a find a recent Danish novel. Interesting plot, a few twists but not amazing crime writing. The writing was amateurish and the coincidences and timing made the outcome un realistic. Has been compared to "the Girl ...
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lost in translation? May 10 2012
Format:Hardcover
What a big disappointment! I only bought this book because it was listed as one of the top 10 "must list" on Entertainment Weekly". I do not think that this book was ready to be published. I thought that I was reading a draft. And I did not care for the characters at all. Perhaps the story was lost in translation? I wish I could get a refund...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  997 reviews
195 of 207 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting and Entertaining Nov. 18 2011
By Nancy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
From start to finish, the only word that I could use to describe this book is intense. From the first paragraph, you are drawn into the life of Nina Borg as she enters a station to retrieve a package for a friend and comes away with a young boy who has been drugged and lying near lifeless in a suitcase.

No, that is not giving away too much since that is pretty much the title of the book, but what the title does not tell you is what got us to this point. Is there more to this story than the obvious dark side of human kind.

Nina Borg is not your usual protagonist, she has some dark secrets of her own and only in future books, do I think, you will see more of what and who she is. Obsessed with her work as a Danish Red Cross nurse and helping immigrant refugees, Nina has seen the good and the bad in people and carries all of their scars; but what Nina finds in the train station locker will spin her world.

There are many storylines going on and the reader is pulled from one to the other knowing that they will all come to a climatic ending. But what ending will it be - as a mother searches for her missing son, a nurse trying to find where a child belongs, and a wealthy man who has set this whole nightmare in motion.

Kaaberbol and Friis know how to bring an intense book to a climatic end. The reader is left with only one thought, "Wow". Riveting and entertaining, this book is a proposed first in a series and I certainly hope that the future storylines will captivate me as this one has
118 of 129 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saving the world - and one small boy Sept. 27 2011
By Patto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Nina Borg is a Red Cross nurse with a strong drive to save the world. She's done volunteer nursing in global hotspots. Even now in Copenhagen she belongs to a secret network that gives medical care to illegal refugees.

One day as a favor for a friend she collects a suitcase from a locker - and finds a little boy inside, naked and unconscious. She doesn't dare involve the police, for reasons you'll discover when you read the book. She doesn't dare take the boy home, because they're being hunted. And she can't find out where he came from, because, when he wakes, he speaks a language she can't identify. How will Nina handle this insane situation? Read on...

The creepiest thing about the story is that we wonder, not how the boy came to be in the suitcase, but why. What awful fate was in store for him?

The cast of characters includes rich and poor, thugs and do-gooders, nosy neighbors and frightened kids caught in adult dramas. It took me a while to figure out who was who. The plot skips around between countries and characters. But I finally got my bearings and enjoyed the ride. The interesting personality of Nina the nurse is slow to emerge, but I liked her when I got to know her.

Certainly Nina is a handy person to have around when fists fly and guns go off. She can staunch the flow of blood and dress the wounds. I look forward to seeing her talents at work in the next book in the series!

Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis are a new team in the thriller genre and starting out strong. They tell a gripping and original story.
96 of 105 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "She felt too much and she knew it." Sept. 17 2011
By E. Bukowsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
"The Boy in the Suitcase," by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Fris, is set in Denmark. The first few chapters are confusing; new characters pop up constantly. We know right off the bat that a little boy has been placed in a suitcase, but why? A wealthy man named Jan Marquat lives with his wife and son in a fancy house near a cliff, and it is clear that Jan is very worried. Jucas, an oversized Lithuanian with a fierce temper, has a girlfriend named Barbara whom he hopes to marry. However, he has some unfinished business to take care of before they tie the knot. Another Lithuanian named Sigita Ramoskiene is a single mom who dotes on her three-year-old son, Mikas. Finally, Nina Borg, a nurse who works for the Danish Red Cross Center Furesø, gives aid and comfort to refugees from far-flung places. Although she is married with two children of her own, Nina is an obsessive Good Samaritan who often puts her mission to help those in need ahead of her family's welfare.

Somehow, all of these people are interrelated, but we must wait patiently while the authors connect the dots. Nina, in an attempt to help a friend, winds up trying to protect a terrified toddler who speaks no Danish. She is reluctant to go to the police, since she is leery of authority figures. The authors shift back and forth between Nina, Jan, Jucas, Sigita, and others. We grow to care about the desperate Sigita, whose son has gone missing, and the driven Nina, who is on the run with a youngster she is determined to shield from harm. It eventually becomes apparent that Sigita, Nina, and the little boy are all in grave danger.

Although Kaaberbøl and Fris maintain a high level of suspense, the plot hinges on a twist (revealed at the end) that is melodramatic and far-fetched. Still, we are concerned about the protagonists' welfare and are intensely curious to see how the story will turn out. In addition, the book effectively and movingly explores family conflicts and the emotional pain that loved ones often experience when they argue vehemently. There is a social message here, as well, since Kaaberbøl and Fris strongly criticize what they consider to be the Danish government's callous attitude towards "the broken human lives that washed up on its shores." Therefore, in spite of its over-the-top conclusion, "The Boy in the Suitcase" is a powerful, engrossing, and provocative thriller that further adds to the luster of today's Scandinavian mystery writers.
65 of 74 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit improbable Nov. 15 2011
By Succinct Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Nina ,a nurse, receives a call from an estranged friend asking her to meet her at a cafe. During their brief meeting Nina's friend, Kim, gives her a key to a locker and asks her to help her pick-up a suitcase. When Nina picks up the suitcase she discovers a dying 3-year-old boy locked in the suitcase. Instead of calling the police, Nina embarks on a frantic mission to find the boy's mother even though she can't communicate with the child because he speaks a foreign language. While Nina tries to return the boy to his mother she is hunted by a man willing to do anything to retrieve the child. Throughout the story, Nina puts her life on the line to save this boy.

I really wanted to like this book, but I couldn't get into the story. The characters weren't engaging and at times the story line seemed a bit improbable. I felt the author jumped around too much and didn't focus enough on the main plot.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Way more holes than would fit in a suitcase Oct. 7 2012
By Colleen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
(Spoiler Alert) Most people have been exposed to enough info about organ transplants to know that this story makes no sense whatsoever. First, the medical profession would never have allowed the adoptive father,Jan, pretending to be the real father of Aleksander (for the benefit of deceiving his in-laws) to donate a kidney without being crossmatched with the recipient. They wouldn't just take his word for it and blindly transplant a kidney that was not a match for the boy and which he would certainly reject. Second,even if they would transplant the kidney, why didn't the adoptive mom, who knew her husband wasn't the boy's bio dad, stop it? Instead,near the end of the book when it is finally revealed that the whole thing was about a kidney, she accuses him of putting Aleksander's life at risk by giving him a kidney he knew would be rejected. Third, once they had Mikas (and his kidney,) what did Jan expect to do? Did he have a renegade transplant team on stand-by to illegally take Mikas's kidney and transplant it into Aleksander? In the beginning I thought this was going to be a pretty good story, but very quickly realized that I might as well try to count the stars in the sky as count the holes in this plot. If you are looking for fiction that is at least somewhat believable from a logical standpoint, I suggest looking elsewhere -
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