This is one of those books that I am so very glad that I read. It was a random pick up at the local library and I was gripped from the first page:
“Holding the glass door open with her hip, she dragged the suitcase into the stairwell leading down to the underground parking lot. Sweat trickled down her chest and back beneath her T-shirt; it was only slightly cooler here than outside in the shimmering heat of the airless streets. The strong smell of decaying fast food from a jettisoned burger bag did nothing to improve the flavour of the place.
There was no elevator. Step by step she manhandled the heavy suitcase down to the level where she was parked, then realised that she didn’t really want it in her car until she knew what was in it. She found a relatively private spot behind some dumpsters, sheltered from security cameras and the curious gazes of passersby. The case wasn’t locked, just held closed by two clasps and a heavy-duty strap. Her hands were shaking, and one of them was numb and bloodless from carrying the ungainly weight for such a distance. But she managed to unbuckle the strap and unsnap the locks.
In the suitcase was a boy: naked, fair-haired, rather thin, about three years old. The shock rocked her back on her heels so that she fell against the rough plastic surface of the dumpster. His knees rested against his chest, as if someone had folded him up like a shirt. Otherwise he would not have fit, she supposed. His eyes were closed, and his skin shone palely in the bluish glare of the fluorescent ceiling lights. Not until she saw his lips part slightly did she realise he was alive.”
So this is the basis of the novel’s story and indeed the entire structure of this tale unfolds around this stolen boy – his origins, the reason for his abduction and the people who encounter him along the way.
This is not a brilliant novel. It certainly has its weaknesses and I found, particularly, that the relationship between Anne and Jan was not deep enough for me to empathise with the deception.
There is, however, some stark juxtaposition between their marriage and Morten and Nina’s marriage and the interplay between the voices of each relationship is quite artful.
The boy himself is an enigma. He rarely speaks and although he is the central focus of the text in so many ways he is quite a minor character.
The authors have rather cleverly woven this narrative around a series of sub-plots and thoroughly enjoyed how thing unfolded.
I am thrilled to have read this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the Larson series.