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The Boy in the Suitcase Reviewed by Wally Wood of Brookpleasures.com
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Wally Wood

Reviewer Wally Wood: Wally is an editor and writer, has published three novels, Getting Oriented:A Novel about Japan, The Girl in the Photo an  Death in a Family Business. He obtained his MA in creative writing in 2002 from the City University of New York and has worked with a number of authors as a ghostwriter and collaborator.

With an extensive background in a variety of business subjects, his credits include twenty-one nonfiction books. He spent twenty-five years as a trade magazine reporter and editor and has been a volunteer writing and business teacher in state and federal prisons for more than twenty years. He has finished his fourth novel and has translated a collection of Japanese short stories into English.



 
By Wally Wood
Published on September 29, 2016
 

Authors: Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis

Publisher: Soho Press

ISBN: 978-1-56947-981-0



Authors: Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis

Publisher: Soho Press

ISBN: 978-1-56947-981-0

On the first page of The Boy in the Suitcase a Danish mystery/thriller by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnette Friis, an unidentified female character manhandles a heavy suitcase into a secluded spot in an underground parking garage. When she opens the case she founds a boy, "naked, fair-haired, rather thin, about three years old." The boy is alive but does not speak a language the woman recognizes. The rest of the book is the story of the Danish woman, Nina Borg, who finds the boy; the boy's Lithuanian mother, Sigita; the rich man who wants the boy; and the really bad man who put the boy into the suitcase.

We know fairly early in the book who the bad guy is. We don't (I didn't) really understand the dimensions of the plot until the end of the book. For most of the pages we follow Nina as she attempts to discover the boy's identity; Sigita as she attempts to learn what happened to her son; and the bad guy who leaves bodies and mayhem in his wake. 

According to the book jacket, The Boy in the Suitcase won "Denmark's prestigious Best Thriller Award." As I suggested above, the book does start with a bang. There's then what amounts to a flashback to take the reader up to the point where Nina manhandles the suitcase and finds the boy. Who is he? What is he doing in the suitcase? And where is the friend who asked Nina to pick up the case in her place? Anyone who's read more than one mystery knows the friend is now dead.  

Aside from jumping from one point of view to another in virtually every chapter, which can become distracting, my major complaint about the book is the character of the main character: Why doesn't Nina go to the police? She's a law-abiding Danish citizen, so she has no fear of winding up in the clink herself. Once she's discovered the body of her friend, she knows she's dealing with dangerous people. I wanted to shout at her more than once: GO TO THE POLICE! NOW!

Nevertheless, if the reader finds Nina engaging and sympathetic—and to be fair, she has her own baggage and is in an extraordinary situation—she will, I suspect, enjoy The Boy in the Suitcase if only to see how the bad guy gets his comeuppance. Which is why I read mysteries in the first place.