Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Invisible Murder


Invisible Murder, co-written by Danish authors Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis, features Red Cross nurse Nina Borg, a character the pair introduced in their highly acclaimed 2011 debut novel.  That novel, The Boy in the Suitcase, in addition to being a New York Times bestseller, was named best Danish Thriller of the Year, a New York Times Notable Crime Book, and was nominated for several other literary awards.

In addition to the work she does for the Red Cross at a large refugee camp, Nina is still tied into “the Network,” a group of doctors, nurses, and advocates that provides off-the-grid care and help to those in the country illegally.  Many of the people she sees through her “Network” are Eastern Europe gypsies forced to endure atrocious living conditions as they try to stay under the radar of Copenhagen authorities long enough to scam the city’s citizens out of some of their money.

Nina’s husband, a North Sea geologist, approves of her clandestine services, asking only that she not take that risk while he is away working on an offshore oil rig (the couple have a teen daughter and young son).  Nina, however, because she finds it impossible to ignore the plight of sick children, decides to make one quick visit, despite her husband’s absence, to the neglected Copenhagen garage within which several Hungarian gypsy families have taken shelter.  Bad mistake.

Not only is Nina unable to identify the illness that is causing the children to vomit and dehydrate to the point of delirium, she develops the same symptoms and is hospitalized in critical condition.  In the meantime, Copenhagen security personnel are frantically searching for the young man Nina was originally called about, fearing that he has smuggled the makings of a deadly terrorist weapon into Denmark.

Lene Kaaberbol, Agnete Friis
The plot of Invisible Murder is a complicated one in which the authors give equal weight to what is happening simultaneously in the lives of four very different sets of characters.  The story alternates between Nina’s efforts to help the gypsy children; the frantic attempts of Danish Security to crack what they believe is a terrorist network; a young man’s search for his younger brother, who happens to be the same boy Danish authorities are so desperate to find; and the everyday life of an ailing old man and his younger wife.

Although Invisible Murder might require a little patience on the part of the reader, it will reward those who do not become frustrated enough to stop reading.  Admittedly, because it can be difficult to keep track of some of the Scandinavian character and place names (a common problem encountered by readers of translated novels), keeping a descriptive list of characters as they are introduced will make it easier to keep up with the novel’s many interrelated plot twists.  You will be happy that you stayed with Invisible Murder to the end.

(Review Copy provided by Publisher)

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