|As a nurse, Nina Borg goes beyond the standard nursing care to help her patients back to a normal life. She is also a mother to Anton and Ida, a wife to Morten. Despite some differences of opinion she still considers Karin her best friend . When Karin phones her to ask an urgent and unusual favor Nina cannot help but comply.
Karin wants to her to go to the train station in Copenhagen. She has given her a key to a locker and wants her to remove the contents of the locker and take charge of whatever the locker contains. Completely at sea with Karin's enigmatic request, she takes the key, finds the locker, and removes an oversized suitcase from the receptacle. After struggling with the weighty suitcase for a while she decides to open it. She discovers a young boy just past babyhood, cold, unmoving but still breathing.
As a nurse she recognizes that the boy has been drugged and hesitates to compromise his breathing any more. She wraps him in a blanket, takes him to her car and carefully places him in the back seat. She knows that she ought to contact the police ,but something about her hurried conversation with Karin prevents her from doing the "correct" thing. Instead she contacts a doctor that has helped her in the past with medical emergencies where police intervention is contraindicated. The doctor reluctantly agrees to examine the boy, agrees with Nina's proposed course of action, but vehemently responds that if the police contact him he will deny any knowledge of Nina and the boy.
Because Nina knows nothing of the boy, she doesn't know how to proceed. When she discovers that Karin has been murdered she can imagine many possible scenarios, all horrific in nature. She knows that Karin is not his mother. She does not know who his mother is or where she is. All she is sure of is she must keep him under the radar of both the authorities and some unknown person or persons who wish to harm him.
Like many Scandinavian novels, The Boy in the Suitcase has a dark , sinister quality. The subject of child abduction is not a cheerful one, nor are the reasons in the specific novel for the abduction. There is also an underlying message about Danish society and the justice system.
Unlike most other Scandinavian mystery novels, this one ends on a slightly hopeful note. Some degree of happiness is achieved for some of the characters. There are injustices still needing to be righted and the crusaders in pursuit of these goals are still actively pursuing them.
This novel is unusual in that the translator is one of the authors (Lene Kaaberbol). That an author is the translator eliminates the possibility of the translator misinterpreting the author's intended meaning in Danish when rendering the same into English. There are several places in the novel where conversations are being conducted in one language or another. On each of these occasions the language being spoken is carefully indicated, leaving the reader with the ability to decide how well each character understands the other. In fact the language barrier plays one of the most important parts in the story.
An interesting subplot involves Nina's relationship with her husband and children. She interprets her interaction with the boy in light of her own family which both helps and hinders her progress in trying to reunite the boy with his own people.
In The Boy in the Suitcase the reader has a more extensive knowledge of the complete situation than any of the characters. Yet there are still enough secrets to maintain interest. How or if the boy will be reunited with his family and what will happen to the minor characters as well as the reason for the child's abduction are not fully understood until the final pages of the novel.
This novel appears to be the first one to appear in English from these very talented authors. Hopefully it will not be the last.