Sunday, February 26, 2012
The Boy in the Suitcase Review
Scandinavian literature has become more prominent in the US since Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy grew in popularity. So now there's been an influx of Scandinavian thrillers written and published. I didn't actually realize that The Boy in the Suitcase was one of these until I started reading it. Kaaberbol's novel features a scrawny, boyish and damaged heroine like Lisbeth Salander, but Nina Borg is very different in a lot of ways. The story, which is told from multiple perspectives, is gripping from beginning to end.
Nina works for the Red Cross and is consumed by helping people, but she can't manage to bring that devotion to her husband and their children. When her friend Karin asks her to go to a train station and retrieve a suitcase, she agrees to help, but when she discovers a little boy in the suitcase, she desperately tries to protect him and find out where he came from.
The story also follows Sigita, the little boy's mother in Lithuania, as she tries to figure out what happened to her son. The book goes through her back story to some extent, which helps to set up the twist at the end. I didn't exactly see the ending coming but everything fell together pretty quickly once I got to that point in a shocking way.
I wish I knew more about Scandinavian geography. Some of the story takes place in Lithuania and some in Denmark, which was a bit confusing. There was one point where it seemed like a character from one country to the other, although maybe I just lost track of where the characters were. It seemed like it was easy to get from place to place but I would think one would need to fly between the countries. I have no idea. It's hard sometimes reading about countries that I know so little about because I can't quite visualize everything the way I can when reading a book about American or England.
Anyway, this was a strong mystery - possibly the first in a series? It was suspenseful and an intense look at child trafficking, as well as the various issues faced in Eastern Europe. Kaaberbol did her own translation, as she teaches English, which is nice because the book did not have that sometimes stilted feel that some translated books have. Nina's back story was alluded to briefly towards the end, so it seems like she could definitely get more books out of this character. I'll be keeping my eye on the author.
This is a great read for people who like mysteries, thrillers and were also fans of Stieg Larsson's books.
Here's a good review from the Washington Post.
Buy the book:
Through amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Next up is The Scorch Trials, the sequel to The Maze Runner, although I'm also getting really busy with lots of readings for the electives I'm teaching right now. I'm reading Roald Dahl's Boy, excerpts from the Harry Potter books and several excerpts from books and articles about zombies. It's a busy time!