DEATH OF A NIGHTINGALE is the third in the Nina Borg series (after 2012’s THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE and 2013’s INVISIBLE MURDER). Nina is a Danish Red Cross nurse whose patients in “The Network,” an underground system of assistance for illegal immigrants, seem to drag her into mysteries. Nina’s commitment to “The Network” is such that as this novel opens, she has lost custody of her children. Now she is a nurse at the Coal-House Camp and has resolved to leave “The Network” behind to get her family back. One of her patients, an asthmatic child, is kidnapped after her mother, Natasha Doroshenko, escapes prison (where she is serving a sentence for the murder of the child’s father). Interspersed among modern-day chapters are glimpses of a fairy tale of Ukrainian sisters in the Stalin era.
The Stalin-era story is absolutely fascinating, a gritty look at Soviet life and what people under duress are driven to do. I was less sympathetic to Nina this go-round, having tired a bit of her need to save the world while her life falls down around her. Honestly, she has no one to blame for her personal life but herself. Still, her desire to help those who have nowhere else to turn is compelling, and I can’t seem to let her go. The story of eight-year-old Katarina and her fugitive mother hurtles toward a conclusion that is uncertain until the last page.
An excellent Danish mystery/thriller with a complex protagonist. That this series looks at the plight of women and children and the forgotten makes it stand out from a slough of Nordic crime fiction.
Source disclosure: I received an e-galley of this title courtesy of the publisher.