The Boy in the Suitcase (Nina Borg Series #1)

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The Boy in the Suitcase (Nina Borg Series #1)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this riveting first in a new Danish crime series, hard-working Copenhagen nurse Nina Borg can’t say no to nursing school friend Karin’s cryptic request to pick up a package at the train station. There, stuffed in a suitcase inside a locker, Nina finds a three-year-old boy, drugged but alive. A near altercation with a violent man, who arrives at the locker soon after and is furious to find the suitcase empty, quashes Nina’s instincts to call the police. Child in tow, she tries to track down Karin to understand her involvement and discover whether the boy, Mikas, who speaks only Lithuanian, is a victim of sex trafficking. Meanwhile, others are searching frantically for Mikas, from his mother in Vilnius to the men who’ll stop at nothing to recover their “cargo.” Without flashy plot devices, Kaaberbøl and Friis let Nina’s particular blend of stoicism and vulnerability guide the story. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
A 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 for November 2011

“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

Library Journal
Red Cross nurse Nina Borg, who works helping illegal refugees, gets a call from an estranged friend begging her to pick up a package in one of the lockers at the main Copenhagen train station. The package turns out to be a suitcase with a drugged three-year-old boy inside. When the friend is murdered, Nina realizes she's caught in the middle of a kidnapping case. Nina must use her connections in the refugee community to discover the identity and nationality of the child before she can find out who is behind his abduction. Nina is a complicated, flawed character, conflicted by her compulsion to help strangers rather than stay home with her family. VERDICT Although Nina is the protagonist, she is only one of several voices, and it takes a while to get used to the switching among points of view. Readers who hang on will enjoy the fast-paced plot that takes a surprising twist when the multiple story lines are finally connected. Winner of the 2008 Harald Mogensen award for Best Danish Crime Novel and a finalist for the Scandinavian Glass Key Award (losing to Stieg Larsson), this trilogy debut has also been translated into nine languages. A must for Scandinavian crime fiction aficionados. [See Prepub Alert, 8/2/11.]—Jean King, West Hempstead P.L., NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611733525
  • Publisher: Center Point
  • Publication date: 4/28/2012
  • Series: Nina Borg Series , #1
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 500
  • Product dimensions: 5.86 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.21 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 355 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 355 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 22, 2011

    Great Read!!!

    Loved the story and the thrill. The storytelling was interesting with the use of backstories. Ending has a nice twist. Will recommend to my club.

    30 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 11, 2011

    Promising First Mystery

    This book was quite good and suggests that we have a strong, new talent in the combined efforts of the authors. I found the pace of this mystery to be fast and tense with many questions that needed to be answered along the way. Why was the boy in the suitcase? Who is after the main protagonist Nina? Who can she trust? Who will help her? And will she succeed? The resolving of these questions, and others, creates an edge of your seat novel worth reading, but it is not without its problems. The main character, Nina, has a tendency to come across not as independent or self sufficient, but as self absorbed; the result is that I found it hard to connect with her character. However, the story was peopled with others that I DID connect with, such as the little boy and his mother. If the authors carry this novel into a series, and I feel strongly that they should, then I hope they will flesh out Nina's character more so that she is not just a humanly flawed character, but someone the reader can understand and perhaps empathize with. Definitely worth a read, and I think most readers will find the ending to be quite satisfying.

    26 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Lost Potential

    I loved the concept of this book. Unfortunately I found the suspense lost in quick, undeveloped chapters. A reviewer mentioned that the female authors finally presented female characters in a fair light. I disagree. The women in the story were intellectually stunted, consistently making irrational choices, crippled with overwhelming emotion. Between the poor pacing and annoying characters I was left disappointed with what could have been an excellent book.

    21 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2011

    page turner!

    Great suspence book...loved it.

    18 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Satisfying Scandinavian Mystery

    Nina Borg's life is a busy one. With two children of her own, her job is to help people; working as a nurse for a secret organization that provides medical care to illegals. When she agrees to meet her longtime friend Karin for lunch, Karin begs her to fetch a package from a public locker at the Copenhagen train station. Unwilling to explain what's in the locker, Karin's parting words send Nina down the rabbit hole.

    Nina discovers a drugged and naked young boy in a suitcase inside of the locker. The boy, Mikas, is unable to speak Danish and when Nina discovers that Karin has been murdered, she doesn't know where to turn or who or what she's running from, trying to stay a step ahead of some very dangerous people searching for Mikas.

    Another woman is equally desperate; Sigita Ramoskiene, a Lithuanian woman, wakes up in a hospital, the victim of an apparent alcohol overdose. She doesn't have any memory of what happened to her and discovers that her young son Mikas is missing. The tension builds as Nina struggles to identify and protect the boy, while miles away Sigita frantically searches for her son . Unknown to each other, both women become deeply immersed in the horror of human trafficking.

    THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE is a taut and satisfying Scandinavian thriller. Lynn Kimmerle

    17 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011


    What a great book.. It's harsh and filled with whats probably more reality than i would like to believe. It was pretty fast paced and easy to read, but that isn't to say it was lacking detail. It was colorful but dark smothered in a blanket of bizarre hopefulness, thanks to our two leading ladies, i'd say. All in all i think this book is worth spending a fews with.

    11 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2011

    Great read during Thanksgiving holiday!

    Good writing style, just enough well-written descriptions to carry the story in a steadyfast timing. The story is well-developed and with no loose ends. I'll recommend to any mystery novel lovers.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!

    A very good book!

    10 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2012

    Edge of your seat thriller....

    I purchased and read this book in a day! The characters are riveting. I was absorbed in the story from the beginning with every twist and turn. I love a story that leaves you guessing until the very end and this one is an ace! Exceptional read!

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 24, 2011

    Boy in the Suitcase

    Gripping page turner. Similar to Kate Atkinson's crime ficton.

    7 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2011

    Incredible Story

    I read this as part of Nook friends on FB. I never would have picked it on my own. The story is somewhat complex and the ending was a complete surprise. Glad I read it.

    Note: there are formatting issues with page numbers

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2013


    This book was free, very well edited, 280 pages long and a little hard to get into at first. The flow was a little choppy, but this could have been because it was by a Scandinavian author. Not unlike, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series. By chapter three, I was hooked and did not put this book down for the 2 1/2 hours it took me to finish it. This book contains lots of violence, and at times lurid details. It is believeable. All the characters are well written. The details are wonderful, there are some foreign sentences here and there, with a translation afterwards, so this does not present a problem, includes child abuse and trafficking. There are a few sexual referrals, nothing graphic though. I will read more by this author and will purchase the rest of this series. This is not a book for younger readers, due to the violence and content. Recommended for both sexes, ages 18 and up.


    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2012

    Loved it!

    A page turner. And a good twist to the story. A must read this year.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2011

    <24 hrs

    Thats what it took for me to read this book, less than 24 hrs!

    5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2011

    Could not put it down

    Great read!

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2012


    A real page turner. Right up there with the best Scandinavian crime fiction.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2011

    Would not recommend anyone spendng their money on this one.

    Would not recommend anyone wasting their money on this one. Very difficult read. Confusing plot and characters. Got bored & finally gave up half way through.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2011


    Read some of it sounds lilw a good book hope you lik it if you do are doint send me feedback thanks

    3 out of 52 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 7, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This novel is yet another entry in the growing catalog of Scandi

    This novel is yet another entry in the growing catalog of Scandinoir coming to these shores, and in many ways fits the general pattern: a socially maladapted protagonist, evil doings involving underage victims, societal rot, Eastern European villains, heat waves. That its central figure isn’t a police detective doesn’t move it very far out of the middle of this stream.

    Nina Borg (that protagonist) is a Danish Red Cross nurse who allows herself to be badgered into retrieving the titular suitcase and discovering the titular boy. The narrative switches between Nina’s efforts to figure out who the boy is and why he’s in Denmark, the Lithuanian mother’s attempts to find her son, the Polish and Lithuanian kidnappers’ attempts to get paid, and the ultimate culprit’s maneuverings to make everything turn out right.

    This multi-viewpoint approach works pretty well and ensures the reader doesn’t spend prolonged periods with any character who bugs him/her. It also helps illuminate the various motives at work and the stakes involved using each character’s take on the problem at hand. The prose is clean for the most part, the dialog convincing, and the short chapters keep a loping pace through the shortish (just over 300 hardcover pages) plot.

    This should’ve worked better for me than it did. What happened? Three big things:

    -- The central crime – the kidnapping of a Lithuanian toddler for delivery to a wealthy Danish family – ought to resonate strongly, since it’s the pivot on which the entire plot turns. It didn’t for me. Perhaps the biggest obstacle is the victim himself. At three years old, Mikas is little more than an object on which forces act, and as such it’s hard to invest in him as anything other than (at best) a generic little boy, or (at worst) an animated Maltese Falcon.

    -- While the interior settings are generally well-limned, the exteriors are mostly blank canvases. I know little more about how the featured parts of Copenhagen and Vilnius look or feel now than I did before. This leaves the story strangely unstuck in place; it could with very little effort be relocated to Veracruz and St. Louis, or Bangkok and Sydney.

    -- Nina follows in the footsteps of Kurt Wallander and Harry Hole: a savant who's barely able to keep herself fed and clothed and is mostly unable to function in adult society. She often doesn’t know what to do with Mikas, but is unwilling to turn him over to people who would know; she’s aware a killer is on her trail, but does little to protect herself or the boy. She plunges heedlessly into this case, shredding what few societal attachments she’s somehow managed to form, spending all her money and lurching from one half-thought-out plan to the next.

    Unfortunately, nearly all the other characters are as damaged and traumatized as Nina. There’s not a single intact marriage, normal childhood or non-derailed life to be found here. Nobody does anything that gives them pleasure. While we expect a certain level of sturm und drang in the new Baltic republics, it’s difficult to credit that the residents of the cleanest, safest, most prosperous societies on the planet are all such miserable wretches.

    This isn’t a bad book, just another entry in a genre I’m increasingly finding off-putting. There's plenty here to like if you’re a fan of Scandinoir. There’s even a sequel. Just don’t read this book if you’re already depressed, because there’s nothing in it that will make you feel any better about yourself or the world.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Hard to get into

    Didnt enjoy this book at all. Very hard to get into. Far too many characters to keep up with. Didnt bother finishing the book after the first half.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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