The third installment of the Nina Borg trilogy (Invisible Murder, 2012, etc.) shuttles back and forth between a nerve-racking present and an unspeakable past.
Now that she’s been arrested for trying to stab her abusive fiance, Michael Vestergaard, to death, what else can go wrong in Natasha Doroshenko’s life? Hours after she escapes the police officers transferring her from her prison cell to a Copenhagen station for questioning, someone succeeds in killing Vestergaard, and police commissioner Mona Heide is convinced it’s Natasha. Only Nina Borg, a nurse who observed Natasha and her daughter Katerina, 8, at the Coal-House Camp, believes that she escaped to take her daughter away from the camp, not to finish the job on her former lover. As Natasha, Nina and the police, with the unwanted assistance of a mysterious pair of Ukrainian cops, work at desperate cross-purposes in the present, trouble is brewing in Ukraine during the famine of 1934. Olga Trofimenko's father, Andreij, who has brought his wife and children—Olga, her older sister, Oxana, and their younger brother, Kolja—to Mykolayevka so that he can manage the collective farm there, abandons his family to take up with another woman, throwing them on the dubious mercies of their doctrinaire schoolteacher, Comrade Semienova, and Uncle Stalin. Sooner or later, of course, this grim past will collide with the troubled present, and trying to imagine how they’ll come together, and whether their connection will justify all the threatened coincidences and loose ends, is the chief pleasure this ice-cold thriller offers.
The most conventionally plotted of Nina’s three adventures, and the one in which she has the least to do, is still required reading for fans of the burgeoning field of new Nordic suspense.