The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis, narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Published in audio by AudioGO, published in print by Soho Crime
Sigita’s life revolves around her three year old son, Mikas, particularly now that she and his father are separated. When she wakes up in the hospital with a concussion and an improbable blood alcohol level, her first thought is naturally for her son. At first it seems his father may have picked him up – a strange and worrisome enough possibility – but it soon becomes clear that Mikas has been abducted by someone unknown, and that his disappearance is related to his condition. Panicked, Sigita is determined to do anything possible to find her son and bring him home safely.
Meanwhile, in Denmark, Nina Borg – an activist and member of a shadowy network dedicated to helping immigrants – has been asked to do an odd favor by her estranged friend Karin. She is to pick up a suitcase from a locker at the Cophenhagen train terminal and absolutely refrain from opening it in public. When she is able to open the suitcase, Nina finds a small boy inside, drugged but alive. The next thing she knows, Karin is dead and she fears for her own life and that of the boy.
Thoughts on the story:
Early on in the story, The Boy in the Suitcase seems very disjointed. The story jumps from Lithuania to Denmark and back again and readers who are unfamiliar with the Scandinavian and Eastern European names may wonder if they will ever understand what is going on. Before too long, however, we get to real meat of the story and it becomes difficult to put down. Both Nina and Sigita have secrets in their past that lend special significance and panic to the situation they are facing, making The Boy in the Suitcase a psychological thriller as much as it is the more straightforward thriller it appears to be. Despite a few very minor plot holes, it is an incredibly engrossing story, and yet not nearly as psychologically damaging as I imagined a story about a little boy stuffed in a suitcase would be.
Thoughts on the audio production:
Katherine Kellgren’s narration of The Boy in the Suitcase shines. Her accents are wonderful, as is her differentiation between characters. At points she is so subsumed into Kaaberol and Friis’s story that her voice reaches a frantic, fevered pitch that is impossible for a listener to ignore.
The Boy in the Suitcase is a darkly fascinating book, and a wonderful example of the Scandinavian crime genre, full of strong, smart women. I imagine that it works very well in print, but it is an absolute gem in audio. Highly recommended.
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