Friday, 27 September 2013

REVIEW: Death of a Nightingale (Nina Borg #3)

From the Nordic noir duo who brought you The New York Times bestseller The Boy in the Suitcase comes a chilling new thriller with a mystery seventy-years in the making.

Nina. Natasha. Olga. Three women united by one terrifying secret. But only one of them has killed to keep it.

Natasha Doroshenko, a Ukrainian woman who has been convicted of the attempted murder of her Danish fiancé, escapes police custody on her way to an interrogation in Copenhagen's police headquarters. That night, the frozen, tortured body of Michael, the ex-fiancé, is found in a car, and the manhunt for Natasha escalates. It isn't the first time the young Ukrainian woman has lost a partner to violent ends: her first husband was also murdered, three years earlier in Kiev, and in the same manner: tortured to death in a car.
Danish Red Cross nurse Nina Borg has been following Natasha's case for several years now, since Natasha first took refuge at a crisis center where Nina works. Nina, who had tried to help Natasha leave her abusive fiancé more than once, just can't see the young Ukrainian mother as a vicious killer. But in her effort to protect Natasha's daughter and discover the truth, Nina realizes there is much she didn't know about this woman and her past. The mystery has long and bloody roots, going back to a terrible famine that devastated Stalinist Ukraine in 1934, when a ten-year-old girl with the voice of a nightingale sang her family into shallow graves.


Thank you to netgalley for allowing me to review this :D

Recently, I've really gotten into crime thrillers - and I discovered the Nina Borg series by Kaaberøl and Friis and Death of a Nightingale is the third book in these series. I actually read the past two previously a few months back, but since I was allowed to read this book as an arc, so I feel obliged to review it - not only to show gratitude to the authors for giving these arcs out, but because I truly did enjoy these books.

As I said previously, this book is the third book in the Nina Borg series. Set in Denmark, the Nina Borg series, follow the story of Nina Borg, a kind-hearted nurse who works with illegal immigrants and refugees and has a bad habit of being too emotionally involved/allowing her work to overlap with her personal life. The first book of these series involved a young Lithuanian boy being kidnapped in a suitcase, with the intention of using him as an organ donor while the second book explored the story of Roma boys who attracted the wrong kind of attention from the authorities. The second book of the Nina Borg series, Invisible Murder, was probably my favourite of the Nina Borg series but that's not to say that this book is not good. Quite the opposite, it is very, very good and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Death of a Nightingale opens with an  elderly woman who tells her son and grandchild a blood-curdling fable of a princess who pays a horrible price by trying to be better than her sister.  Like the other two books, Death of a Nightingale, has many perspectives. Natasha Doroshenko, a young Ukrainian mother, who was the sheltered and cosseted wife of a journalist, and it becomes evident that her husband was involved in a number of dodgy dealings which involved accepting money to hide or reveal other people's secrets. After her husband is found brutally murdered due to his involvement in blackmail, Natasha makes the conscious choice to flee Ukraine to Denmark, but her bad luck continues. She gets involved with a Danish man named Michael Vestegaard, who brutally abuses her but she is reluctant to speak out; believing that it was better to remain in Denmark than to be deported back to Ukraine. She is later sent to prison for attacking Michael, who is revealed to have pedophiliac leanings; she escapes from police custody, knowing that she'll be deported, and desperately tries to find her daughter before it is too late.

As the nurse of Katerina/Rina (Natasha's daughter), Nina is caught up in the investigation of Natasha Doroshenko who is not only wanted by the Danish authorities but by the Ukrainian authorities, who believe she is involved in the murder of her husband back home in Kiev. 

There are flashbacks to famine-stricken Ukraine during the 1930's under Stalin's rule, following the story of two sisters who become increasingly important to the story's plot. I didn't see the relevance in the story of the two sisters, until the very end - I actually so did not expect that twist but it ties everything up nicely, haha. We also see Nina's friend, Søren Kirkegaard (he makes his first appearance in the second book), who helps in the investigation of Natasha and her past in Ukraine, before she escaped to Denmark. The book isn't heavy on action, but I enjoyed it anyway - there is a lot of depth in the investigation and proceedings, which is worth more than dodging bullets, to me anyway.

I must admit, I found the story of Natasha and the two Ukrainian sisters more interesting than Nina's, but that is most likely because the authors are playing out Nina's story over a longer period of time. Personally, I thought Natasha was an interesting character, not likeable, but very intriguing, and it was thrilling watching her grow from an ignorant, sheltered seventeen-year-old bride from Donetsk (which is hardly the epicentre of glamour and sophistication) into a fierce, hardened survivor who is willing to go to any length to protect her daughter, Katerina. - and I hope Natasha appears in future books, she was interesting to read about.

The writing in this book is solid, which I enjoyed and considering it was translated from Danish to English - I must commend the translators for doing a superb job, nothing sounded clunky or out of place. I enjoyed learning about the two countries shown in this book; Ukraine and Denmark, as they weren't countries I really knew a lot about. Actually, the Nina Borg series tends to focus on two countries, Denmark and an Eastern European country, the first book was focused on Lithuania and the second was about Hungary, and I love how the authors integrate and weave the background content of these countries into the plot line, it adds depth to the story, and it allows me to learn more about these countries which is cool.

I don't know when the authors are planning on releasing a fourth book, but I eagerly anticipate it. 

RATING: 4/5 stars

1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent review, and one of your comments I particularly liked: 'The book isn't heavy on action, but I enjoyed it anyway - there is a lot of depth in the investigation and proceedings, which is worth more than dodging bullets, to me anyway.'

    I feel the same away about bullets, and also about explosions and car chases.

    [Naming a character after the great Danish philosopher Søren Kirkegaard strikes me as a bit cheeky on the part of the authors.]