One activity that often competes with my knitting is curling up with a really good murder mystery or psychological thriller. You can do many things while knitting – listen to music, watch tv, have a conversation, sing – but you can’t hold a good book (or electronic reader) in your hands and read while knitting. I just finished The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis. It’s a #1 international best seller and won Denmark’s Best Thriller Award.
The title piqued my curiosity. It turns out that the book does revolve around a three year old boy found curled up in a suitcase, that was stashed in a public locker, inside a busy train station. Who he is and how he got there is the crux of the story.
The opening chapter instantly drew me in. An unnamed female struggles to push a heavy suitcase to a parking lot. Before heaving it into her car, she opens it and discovers the boy inside, barely moving but alive.
The ensuing pages weave the story introducing new characters with each new chapter. I made it about halfway through when I lost interest. It was hard to keep the characters straight. I kept having to flip back to old chapters to remind me of each character’s storyline. I think the culprit was poor character development. Even when I reached the end, I found myself questioning the character’s motivations. They simply didn’t feel plausible.
The story did start to come together more meaningfully in the last few chapters. I liked that the ending left the characters with possibilities for redemption. Also, the reasons why there was a boy in a suitcase are revealed. (As you can tell, I am deliberately avoiding spoilers).
There are some interesting aspects to this book beyond the main story. It seems to contain a social criticism of the plight of refugees in Denmark, particularly the exploitation of women into prostitution and child trafficking.
Overall, I would give this book 3 stars out of 5. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the prose or left with memories of endearing, memorable characters, but it’s a good read while relaxing in my comfy chair, with my yarns and needles on the floor beside me.
My Review ★★★☆ ☆