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.
As if the demands of her family and her job caring for women who’ve run away from abusive partners aren’t stressful enough, Nina Borg has a new problem, and it’s a doozy. For reasons she doesn’t explain, Karin Kongsted, an old friend from nursing school, has begged her to pick up a piece of luggage from a locker at Copenhagen’s Central Station. When Nina opens the suitcase, she instantly sees why Karin was so closemouthed about her errand. Inside is a naked little boy, drugged and deeply asleep but still alive. A chance encounter at the police station where she goes to report her shocking discovery instantly persuades Nina that her best move is to go into hiding, as Karin seems to have done herself. By the time she catches up with her friend to demand an explanation, however, Karin’s been murdered after using her dying breath to identify Nina to the man who beat her to death. Nina will have to look elsewhere for answers—just as Sigita Ramoskiene, the Lithuanian mother whose 3-year-old son Mikas has just vanished from a playground near their house in Vilnius, will have to look further for answers than the Department of Missing Persons, whose investigator, Evaldas Guzas, doesn’t believe her wild story of abduction. It’s clear that Mikas is the boy in the suitcase, and it’s only a matter of time before the two women hunting for the truth find each other. But the reason Mikas has been kidnapped, when it’s finally revealed, packs quite a wallop. So does the continued threat of Karin’s killer, who’s on the hunt himself.
A debut that’s a model of finely tuned suspense. First, inevitably, of the Nina Borg trilogy.