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Book Review: ‘Death of a Nightingale’ by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis

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Death of a Nightingale by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis is the third novel in the Nina Borg series. The other two books, The The Boy in the Suitcase and Invisible Murder, were both best-sellers.

Book Review Death of a Nightingale by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete FriisNatasha Doroshenko, a Ukrainian woman who is wanted for the attempted murder of her Danish fiancée, escapes police custody. On that night the police find the body of her ex-fiancée, a divisive journalist, after he has been tortured.

Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse, knows Natasha from her work at the refugee camp and has been following her case for some time. Nina cannot see how someone like Natasha was able to kill so brutally and tries to help her.

The story follows both this current timeline and another in 1930s Ukraine, where the people are under the thumb (or heel) of “Uncle” Stalin.

I found the historical story much more interesting than the current-day.  The authors tell the tale from the point of view of a little girl who doesn’t know life can be any other way. In a Grimm-like fashion she witnesses her family being torn apart and everyone on the brink of starvation. The Soviet machinery is brutal and unforgiving on one side, and her teenage sister has been marked (justifiably) as a government tool, which leads the family being ostracized by their former friends.

The book brings forth a side of Europe which is rarely seen, that of poverty, hatred and desperation. However, the novel never lectures the reader and tells the story through and through.

While I found the novel a bit convoluted at times, I did enjoy it and thought the Ukrainian chapters were fascinating and terrifying.  Even though this is my first Nina Borg novel, I certainly intend to pick up more of the books in the series to find out about this complex and interesting woman.

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