Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Death of a Nightingale (Nina Borg #3) by Lene Kaaberbol, Agnete Friis
This is apparently the third in a series featuring Nina Borg, but the story didn't suffer in not having read the first books. Nina is definitely a flawed character, but also definitely one with a good heart. She has worked with immigrants, both legal and illegal, in Denmark. Through this work, she has befriended Natasha, a woman currently in jail for the attempted murder of her fiance, and Natasha's daughter, a child with severe asthma, who bears the emotional scars of her young life. When Natasha escapes from custody, while being brought to the police station, events begin to get interesting. One of two investigators in Denmark from Ukraine to question her disappears. Her fiance is murdered, and the killing is in the same fashion as Natasha's husband back in Ukraine had been killed just before Natasha fled for Denmark. The immigration camp where Katarina is being held while her mother is imprisoned is attacked in an attempt to get the girl. She only evades being kidnapped through the quick thinking of Nina, who has become attached to both the mother and the daughter. While the police think all the crimes can be attributed to Natasha, Nina is unconvinced. The figure she'd seen coming toward her as she hid with the child was definitely a man, and the attack seemed more professional than a lone woman, who escaped on the spur of the moment, might be able to carry out.
The story unfolds, interspersed with the story of two sisters, growing up in Ukraine under the rule of Stalin. This part of the book fascinated me, with a glimpse of how life was for people in small towns and villages. Olga and Oxana's story would have made a good separate book, but it was skillfully interwoven with the tale of Natasha and Nina, culminating in a way I really didn't expect. I even was kept wondering if the Nightingale in the story related to Nina (as in Florence Nightingale) or as in either Olga or Oxana, the two sisters referred to as nightingales for their singing.
It is interesting to me that the story flowed so well with two writers, and makes me wonder how the work was dispersed. There were no continuity disruptions that I detected, aside from the obvious technique of intertwining stories. Some folks claim that female writers of mystery are "softer", though I don't necessarily agree. However, there was a difference in this book of some sort: very character driven, and while it involved politics and ugliness of the world, the violence and use of guns, explosions, and knives was less in the forefront. I'll have to ponder this a bit more, but I think I'll seek out the first two books in the series.